Put Rainwater to Use

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According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, during an average rainstorm more than 700 gallons of water run off the roof of a typical home. That’s enough water to take 17 baths or 58 showers!

Do you know what happens during and after a rainstorm? Chances are all that water is rushing right off of nearby buildings and pavement and back into the local waterways, bringing a whole lot of pollution with it. By capturing rainwater with strategies like rain barrels and water gardens, you can put it to use to water your plants or flush the toilets.

Measure your impact

Measure the gallons of water saved this year. Estimate your impact by adding up the amount that will likely be saved by using water from the barrels instead of the hose or spigot. You can track your school's water usage data throughout the school year using Arc, the online, building performance platform, to identify areas of inefficiencies.

Get started

  • Learn more about your local watershed: where the school’s water comes from and where it goes in storm sewers when it leaves the site.
  • Identify a level area near a downspout on the school or campus grounds to install a rain barrel, and get approval from a school administrator for the project. 
  • Find a large waterproof container that you can use to create your rain barrel. Install a downspout diverter that will allow the water to flow into the barrel from the downspout but divert out to the storm sewer if the barrel gets full.
  • You can have fun decorating the barrel, and then you're ready to install it at the school! 
  • Connect student learning with sustainability action. For this topic, you can access a free module in English and Spanish for middle school students called, "Earth Waters Our Lives," through the Learning Lab platform. On the web site, you can find other high-quality classroom content — over 450 lessons — for teachers from kindergarten to high school. To locate more lessons about water use and stormwater, search by theme, learning standard, teaching method, or keyword.
  • Educate school staff on what what supports or impedes healthy, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable learning spaces. The Green Classroom Professional Course breaks down the different aspects of building sustainability, including water efficiency, and identifies the effects they have on school occupants and the environment.

Additional resources

Example projects

Materials for this project

If applying for a mini-grant through the DonorsChoose.org site, these materials among others are included in the site's available vendors: