Rain helps Sonoma County businesses, school that reuse rainwater

ByGloria Rodriguez KGO logo
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Rain helps Sonoma Co. businesses, school that reuse rainwater
The recent drought in California has inspired some businesses and nonprofits to find ways to conserve water.

SONOMA, Calif. (KGO) -- The recent drought in California has inspired some businesses and nonprofits to find ways to conserve water.

One way is reusing rainwater. And all these atmospheric rivers are having a positive impact on that.

Tanks sitting outside Flowery Elementary School in Sonoma have been capturing roof rainwater during our recent storms that the school will reuse for its garden in the summer when water isn't so plentiful.

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Steven Lee, of the nonprofit Sonoma Ecology Center, designed the system and helped install it in Nov.

"When the kids are learning all of those lessons, we want them to learn about growing food and all of the bits about having an educational garden," Lee said. "Water conservation and water capture is part of that curriculum. So it's a demonstration system in addition to it actually providing the water that would be needed to satisfy some portion of the water budget for that garden."

Also in Sonoma County, La Crema Winery in Windsor is among four Jackson Family Wines in Northern California collecting rainwater.

"As the rain falls on the roof it's diverted into a series of pipes that leads into tanks in our winery that we then capture the water in," said Jim Sturgeon, of La Crema Winery. "We then run that water through a filtration system. We then move that into another set of what we call closed top tanks where it's stored, and it's then pumped into our refrigeration system to use in its cooling tower to help cool down our winery when it gets hot during the summer days."

La Crema's onsite team installed the system in 2021. From Dec. to now, they already collected 125,000 gallons, about what they would in a typical year.

"We've had to deal with some mud, and close roads and other things but definitely, when we're talking about a positive coming out of this, it's how do we capture this critical resource here in California, especially in wine country that has water captured and use it for something in the future that otherwise would be pulled from the ground," Sturgeon said.

The four Flowery Elementary tanks can collectively store 20,000 gallons of water. With the recent rain, they're already full.

"It's really nice to see the plan come together, as they say in the A team," Lee said. "And it worked exactly as it was designed to work."

A grant funded the system at Flowery Elementary.

Lee hopes to install systems like it in other schools.

He said there are things we can all do to conserve water. For example, we can put a bucket in the shower to collect water as its getting warm and reuse it.

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