Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New City Program Will Loan Rain Water Tanks to Land Bank Community Gardens

We are finally getting a real rain storm for the first time since May. Whoo hoo! We have had a difficult time keeping our produce and flowers sufficiently watered at the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden with the light and infrequent rain we have received this growing season and the freakish thefts of our rain water from our tank and barrels. On Friday, I added a bibb lock to our tank and one of our rain barrels (to keep anyone from taking water through the spickets). However, Richard from Growing Hearts & Hands Community Garden last week told me that the City was in the process of giving away more tanks. This caused me to call Leslie Strader in the Mayor’s office to see if we could get a second tank to increase our storage capacity (in light of the drought and water thefts) and to support the Block Watch flower gardens (because they have been transporting water from home twice each week). Leslie then sent me to the Rebuilding Together Central Ohio Tool Library, which had been contracted to administer this new program.

Julie from Rebuilding Together called me yesterday and here is the low-down:

1) Councilperson Priscilla Tyson is the brainchild of this program.

2) The City will loan produce community gardens located on City Land Bank lots a rain water tank and other equipment. There are two sizes of tanks (i.e., 330 and 550 gallon). All of the tanks are black. The City will retain ownership of the tanks and equipment. Community gardens located on private property are not eligible for this program. Flower gardens are also not eligible. Eligible community gardens must be in at least their second growing season; first-year community gardens are not eligible to apply.

3) The equipment being loaned includes a solar-powered pump, hoses and a bibb lock. This will mean that we can run a hose from the tank directly into the garden and will no longer need to haul watering cans back and forth from the garden to our tank. Is that cool, or what? The equipment needs to be returned to Rebuilding Together at the end of each growing season and can be picked up at the beginning of the next growing season.

4) The tanks will be labeled as City property and that the water is non-potable (i.e., not safe to drink).

5) Three members/officers of the community garden must sign-on as responsible parties. This will involve providing your drivers’ license number.

6) Gardens must complete and submit a non-profit organization application to the Tool Library.

7) Gardens must also provide a soil sample, which will be tested by OSU for, among other things, lead. (In other words, these gardens will receive free soil testing as part of this program). The details of this are still unclear.

8) The program will only cover 30-35 gardens.

9) Rain Brothers will be providing and installing the tanks and equipment.

10) This program will also pay for Rain Brothers to fill the tank one time. In other words, you don’t have to wait for it to rain before the tank will be filled for you at no charge.

11) There will be some delays because of how the City is reimbursing Rebuilding Together, but the program will be administered over 2012 and 2013. They hope to start delivering tanks to eligible gardens by the end of July.

12) Questions and inquiries should be directed to Rebuilding Together at 258-6392.

13) A formal press release will be coming.

It’s possible that I have forgotten some details, but you can obtain the information for yourself from the Tool Library. Happy watering!


  1. Is it possible the rain water collected in the water tanks can be used for drinking? Water collected in rain water tank as such is not safe for drinking. I am very well confused or what else to do for making it clear for drinking.

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    1. It is not safe to drink the rain water collected in the tanks for a number of reasons. One is that the rain washes bird poop off the roof and gutters into the tank. Another is there is a lot of bacteria growing in those warm tanks. I believe that you can sterilize the water (with a sufficient amount of chemicals, like chlorine, and possibly boiling it if you really needed to drink it. We only use our collected rain water to water the plants and never drink it. (Sadly, we think homeless people have been drinking it. That's why we put signs up informing them that the water is unsafe to drink).

  2. The rain water tank would definitely benefit the Gardens of Land Bank Community. Water tanks reduce storm-water runoff which can often damage delicate creeks, rivers and lakes after a heavy downpour. More importantly, rain water has excellent nutrients which is good for gardening and is not treated with a variety of harsh chemicals to make the water "clean".