Rainwater Harvesting and Rainwater Garden at Park Day School in Oakland

Grantee: Park Day School, Oakland
Project completed 2011/2012
Total project cost: $11,376
Clean Water Program grant: $5,000

Park Day School is located in Oakland’s Temescal Creek watershed. As part of the school’s “learning garden,” Park Day School installed a 600-gallon cistern and two 1,550-gallon tanks to collect rainwater from the school roof and irrigate the garden during dry months. A combination of raised mounds (“berms”) and low areas (“swales”) in the garden help direct the water from the cistern to the right places and allow rainwater to collect temporarily. This allows the water to percolate slowly into the ground, naturally filtering out contaminants, nourishing plants and recharging underground aquifers.

Park Day School staff integrated the installation of the catchment system and rainwater garden into the curriculum, supporting 5th graders’ watershed studies and 1st graders’ weather studies. Students from various grades helped install the cistern, build berms and swales, and plant fruit trees. Several non-profit organizations and volunteer parents donated expertise and time to lead the installation.

To support the educational value of the project, Park Day School created a permanent sign describing and visually illustrating how the system prevents storm water pollution, conserves water and helps the local ecosystem. During several school events, students led tours of the rainwater garden, reaching thousands of outside visitors.

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PDS Rainwater Sign (PDF)