Thanks to a dedicated student's multi-year effort, Sonoma State University will install a 5,300-gallon greywater system this fall to irrigate a student garden that currently supplies over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce each year to a local food bank.
Environmental studies and planning (ENSP) major Ashleen Rai started working on a rainwater capture system two years ago for the student garden adjacent to Sonoma State's Environmental Technology Center. Now, two 2,650-gallon water tanks have arrived and will be hooked up to irrigate the garden in the fall semester.
The garden is currently irrigated using city water. Once installed, the new system is expected to yield a 65 percent savings in water use during the summer.
The greywater system works by collecting and filtering water runoff from the Environmental Technology Center’s steeply slanted roof to use in the dry summer months. The building was designed to incorporate a wide range of sustainable building techniques and design features that minimize energy use, consuming less than 50 percent of the energy allotted by the state for similar buildings.
The garden is part of a class in the ENSP Department at Sonoma State in which students grow, harvest and deliver food to the Rohnert Park food bank Neighbors Organized Against Hunger (NOAH). The organization assists 200 to 300 households each week, it says.
The Watershed Academics To Enhance Regional Sustainability foundation (WATERS), a Sonoma State and Sonoma County Water Agency collaborative endeavor, contributed $3,000 in grant funding toward the project. Rai's faculty advisor on the project is ENSP Professor Karna Wong.