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Cisterns and Rain Barrels

cisternWhile rainwater harvesting isn’t a new concept, recent concerns over water quality and quantity have encouraged many municipalities and homeowners to use consider using cisterns or rain barrels. These rainwater harvesting systems capture rooftop runoff and store the water for later use. By using harvested rainwater for purposes that don’t require treated water, we can decrease demand on municipal water supply systems while preventing stormwater pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorous from washing into our surface waters. While the cistern at the Kernodle Center is underground, many cisterns are built above ground. New designs are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional, incorporating wooden exteriors, plantings, and murals.

rainbarrelRain barrels are simply small rain harvesting systems. They can be purchased from many garden catalogues or stores, or you can make your own following the directions found on many websites. You can even attach a soaker hose to your rain barrel and deliver nutrient rich rain water directly to your plants. Rain water is softer than tap water; has no chlorine, lime, or calcium, and is healthier for your plants than tap water. With proper use, a rainwater harvesting system can pay for itself over time by reducing potable water bills.


The dense clay soils of the Piedmont Triad along with the highly developed land around Little Alamance Creek make it challenging to prevent polluted runoff. Cisterns, rain gardens or bioretention cells, vegetated buffers along streambanks, and other best management practices (BMPs) allow stormwater to absorb into the soil instead of flowing into stormdrains or directly into Little Alamance Creek.





Cistern Bubbles


To download a map of the walking tour, please click here, or visit our materials page. To check out the signs on display, please click here.


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