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Hard Knox

Harvesting rainwater at Halls High

Aug 05, 2013 02:36PM, Published by Brian O, Categories:



Jake Mabe

Halls High School horticulture teacher Mike Blankenship was all smiles last Thursday as he stood in the sweltering heat of an August afternoon.

He was there, along with government representatives who regulate stormwater runoff, to take a sneak peek at the Beaver Creek Task Force’s last project funded by a $1 million grant it secured five years ago – a cistern/rainwater harvesting system at the Halls High greenhouse.

Professionally installed by Rainwater Resources, a Knoxville-owned family company in business for 15 years, the system’s highlight is a Visy ™ water vortex system that will allow water runoff from the roof to be filtered and reused to water plants both inside the greenhouse and in raised beds outside.

Rainwater Resources president/principal owner Denis Rochat says his company is privileged to be involved with the project. He gave a tour and brief demonstration of the system, starting with the tank located behind the greenhouse.

“What you’re looking at is something that has the ability to have 1,500 gallons of water sit in the tank in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter, maintained in clear, slime-free, odor-free conditions, and use it for anything – irrigation, greenhouse use, industrial use, even potable residential use.

“Rainwater harvesting is all about use – detain and store water for future use.”

After it leaves the tank, the water passes through an ultraviolet system that filters the water so that it is 100 percent safe should anyone inhale it, Rochat says, “and by 100 percent safe, I mean that there are no microbiological issues that will make anyone sick.”

Rochat says the system will allow Blankenship to use either cistern water or city water at the greenhouse.

Rainwater Resources vice president of industry relations Vince Guarino says the company has also installed such systems in high-end residential homes and by the end of the month will have installed two systems at Ijams Nature Center.

“The EPA rules are now so strict and specific about new construction over one acre that I think you’ll probably see a lot more installation of these systems, along with rain gardens and permeable pavers, they all will come into play.”

Blankenship is excited at the possibilities the new system will offer him and his students and says he’s “blessed” to have it at Halls High.

“We’re going to grow plants, we know that,” Blankenship says. “But we’ll also be looking at doing things with aquaculture and hydroponics.”

A ribbon-cutting and open house event to show off the cistern system will be held Oct. 8.



jake mabe halls high school beaver creek task force


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