Home News A grassroots rainwater project

A grassroots rainwater project

by Alexia Martel-Desjardins October 9, 2018
A grassroots rainwater project

Five rainwater harvesting barrels are currently scattered across Loyola campus.


Rainwater harvest projects at the Loyola campus might expand to Concordia’s downtown buildings next spring. Having seen the benefits of this initiative, the office of Facilities Management plans on installing more rainwater barrels in the coming months.

Currently, there are five bins collecting rainwater on Loyola campus. Four are located near the garage behind the PS building, while another is beside a shack near Terrebonne St.

The rainwater is mainly used to water vegetation around campus, to clean roads and to wash off dirt created by the construction of the new Loyola science building. This new system is more time-efficient and provides water that is better for the plants.

A Facilities Management Intern, Sharon Nelson, wrote a draft for the program in April. The document says that “the plants also benefited, for they were fed with water that did not contain levels of chlorine as is present in potable water.”

“In a reasonable rainfall, they get filled up, let’s say, in two hours,” said Gerry Barrette, property and operations manager at Loyola.  “When it rains overnight, we come back the next morning and they’re all filled.”

Barrette and his team came up with the idea to implement a rainwater collection system when they realized it would be more time-efficient than filling barrels with city water using a hose. “That took like, an hour and half, two hours,” Barrette said.

The advantages of the watering system inspired a rainwater management program. Daniel Gauthier, building performance coordinator for Facilities Management, said the rainwater barrels project was “more or less grassroots. The rainwater management program came after that and we used what Gerry had done as a springboard for the rest of it.”

More recently, the Facilities Management team has used the rainwater to wash roads and walkways that are dirty from the construction of a new building at Loyola.

“We use it because, on our vehicles, there’s also a high pressure spray, so this way we go around with our vehicle and we wipe down the road with water,” said Barrette.

Once the four barrels near the PS building are full, the water is quickly transferred to other barrels on a pickup truck.

“We’re saving time because […] loading up the water takes, say, ten minutes max and then we’re up and running and we go around campus with our vehicle and water the plants that way,” Barrette said.

Each barrel has a volume of 250 gallons. They were purchased with part of the property and operations budget, according to Barrette. “Basically, the whole setup we presently have probably cost $2,000,” he said.

Daniel Gauthier wants to install more barrels elsewhere at Concordia. “We would like to expand this to other areas where it makes sense, specifically places where we have grounds or any other exterior cleaning needs, notably the Grey Nuns [residence],” he said.

Barrette has eight other barrels that are not yet in use. He hopes to place them at the gardens of the City Farm School and of the People’s Potato initiative on the Loyola campus.

These new installations are planned for spring 2019.

Photo by Mackenzie Lad.

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