rotary catchment rsWhen The Volunteer Center's "Center for Food Security and Sustainability" ("The Commons") was built, its design included an inward slanting roof, so that rain water would run toward the middle of the building and could be captured for future use. In addition water cisterns were installed for water storage. At the time, there was no system for capturing the water and directing it into the cisterns. With the help of the Rotary Club of Silver City and Rotary District 5520, that shortcoming has now been remedied.

Asher Gelbart, the owner and operator of Green Energy Now of Mimbres, NM, designed a water catchment system that allows water from the roof of the Commons to flow into the cisterns. The cost of this system, including both professional hours and materials, was covered by grants from Rotary District 5520 and The Rotary Club of Silver City, and the system was installed with the help of members of the Rotary Club and other volunteers. In addition, Asher Gelbart conducted an on-site workshop to teach participants the principles of water catchment and how to apply those principles at their own homes.

In an area where rains are often unreliable, it is essential to utilize rainwater as much as possible. By storing the rain, it can be saved for the dry season and used to water gardens without tapping into well and city water. The installed cisterns will bring water to the gardens at the Commons – gardens which provide approximately 2,000 pounds of fresh food annually to recipients of the Grant County Food Pantry.

A key aspect of Rotary projects is the requirement that they be sustainable – i.e., that a plan be in place to maintain the project for a long period of time. The rainwater catchment system will have an estimated life of at least 20 years. It is estimated that little maintenance will be required, though any necessary troubleshooting will be handled by the staff and volunteers at the Commons.

The accompanying picture shows (from left to right) Peter Falley, Joseph Heidrick and Suzanne Kavanagh, club members, and Kristin Lundgren, co-director of the Volunteer Center in front of the cisterns and with the sign acknowledging Rotary's contribution.

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