AUSTIN, Texas -- City of Austin officials are hoping to turn back the hands of time to help ensure water supplies in the future. Many of our grandparents remember collecting rainwater to use in gardens, for example, but the practice went away with the advent of indoor and outdoor water taps. Now, the Austin's Water Conservation Division is hoping to reestablish the practice by offering cash rebates to municipal, public, or non-profit customers who install rainwater harvesting systems.
"Using rainwater collected from rooftops for landscape purposes is the type of sustainable practice that the City of Austin encourages its citizens to adopt," said Roger Duncan, Director of the Planning, Environmental and Conservation Services Department.
City Water and Wastewater Utility Director Randy Goss added, "Rainwater harvesting could be an effective tool for helping to reduce peak day demand caused by outdoor water use during the summer months." The new rebate program was announced at a news conference at Becker Elementary's Green Classroom. The site was chosen because Becker has an operating rainwater collection system. Green Classroom Director Carla Marshall says the kids have learned a lot.
"We appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate how our system works for the media, " said Marshall, "There's one experiment we do measuring the differences in plant growth using rainwater as opposed to tap water. We won't get to see the end results immediately, of course, but the kids were happy to explain what they've learned so far."
The city is hoping to receive proposals for several demonstration sites that can be examined by the public on municipal, public, or non-profit-related sites. Rebates are for a maximum of $5,000 each, depending on the specifics of the proposal. Various methods of harvesting and storage will be selected. Rebates are not to be used for potable (drinking water) systems, nor should the systems be connected to the city water supply system. Projects must be scheduled for completion by September 30, 1998. Other restrictions apply. For more information on the rebate application process, call Dick Peterson, Conservation Program Supervisor, at (512)499-3514.
An incentive program for rainwater systems for residential customers is being developed and will be announced in April.
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