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Student-led Rainwater Harvesting Projects at Los Altos High School and Egan

By Maggie Kristian Junior, Los Altos High School

As a member of the Los Altos High School (LAHS) Green Team, I can say that our school has accomplished a lot, from recycling to solar panels.  In fact, at one of the recent workshops I attended as a member of our Green Team, we were actually out of project ideas, and turned to the leaders of the workshop for help.

Maggie Kristian, LAHS Junior

Maggie Kristian, LAHS Junior, near the Egan Junior High School site where rainwater harvesting barrels will be installed.

The Stanford students gave me a whole new spectrum of ideas with just one word; outreach.  A member of the Egan Green Team while I was in junior high school, I had given Egan little thought since I moved on to high school, but it seemed time for me to return to my green roots.

To reach out to Egan, I decided to propose a project similar to one we had recently completed at LAHS: rainwater harvesting.  A rainwater harvesting system is an effective way to reduce runoff (especially important at Egan, given its large expanses of flat pavement) and reduce the use of treated water.  1,000 sq ft of roofing will actually yield 600 gallons of rainwater per inch of rain.  The rainwater harvesting system we designed consisted of two barrels of 55 gallons each.  This type of system takes about 5-6 hours to install.  At LAHS, we spread these sessions out over several lunch periods.

At Egan, we began organizing to install a rainwater system fairly late in the school year, and so several conflicts arose with planning due to finals, sports, and Egan graduation.  We plan to schedule an assembly near the beginning of the next school year to allow Egan students to participate in installing the rain barrels.  I have been working with Egan science teacher and head of Green Team, Gina Moore, to get the project rolling and get kids interested in continuing with Green Team through high school.  As of now, we have narrowed down our choice of buildings on campus, and decided that the water should be used on another one of Egan’s recent projects, the native garden.  I have also identified individual and industrial suppliers for the parts needed.  A huge wave of moral (and financial) support has been offered by GreenTown Los Altos, for which I am extremely appreciative.  Essentially, all we need to do is meet with administration at Egan to get the go-ahead for modifying a building on campus, and then we’ll be off and running!

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