FLI Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah Meyer and FLI Intern
Kelly Watters WS’13 construct a rain barrel at a local residence.
Green Infrastructure Program
The Finger Lakes Institute partners with various campus initiatives and community projects to promote the implementation of innovative techniques to manage stormwater, including rain barrels, a green roof, permeable pavement, bioswales, and a rain garden.
Store the Storm Rain Barrel Program
Since 2008, the Finger Lakes Institute has disseminated nearly 300 Store the Storm Rain Barrels to residents, businesses, and schools in the Finger Lakes region through sales, workshops, and service projects. According to the EPA, a rain barrel can save most homeowners 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. It is a simple way to capture and recycle rainwater that would otherwise seep into a house’s basement, be lost to runoff, or be diverted to storm drains, streams, and lakes. To collect water washing off a building roof, the rain barrel is placed underneath the gutter downspout, uses a screen gate to filter out any unwanted debris and insects, and collects up to 55 gallons of water. Each barrel contains a gravity fed spigot, making it easy to fill watering cans or attach a garden hose. The rain barrel’s water can be used for a variety of uses, including watering a garden or washing a car. Not only does a rain barrel help save money on water bills, but it also benefits the environment. Rainwater tends to pick up eroded soil, bacteria, chemicals and trash when flowing over land. By collecting rainwater, the rain barrel prevents these materials from ending up in nearby streams and lakes. It also helps prevent already overwhelmed sewage systems from overflowing and polluting nearby waterways.
FLI’s rain garden is located between the FLI facility and the banks
of Seneca Lake.
FLI Demonstration Rain Garden
A rain garden is designed to soak up rainwater running off of driveways, patios, sidewalks, and roads. It protects water quality by filtering pollution and decreasing erosion. The FLI’s 300 square foot Demonstration Rain Garden was planted by volunteers behind the FLI building in 2009. Native plants were selected for the garden because of their winter hardiness, ability to grow in clay soil, and resistance to disease and insect pests.
A rain garden:
- Recharges local groundwater
- Reduces the potential of home flooding
- Creates a habitat for birds and butterflies
- Protects waterways by filtering pollutants
- Reduces erosion of stream banks and lakeshores
- Sustains adequate flows in streams during dry spells
- Reduces mosquito breeding by removing standing water
- Reduces the need for costly municipal stormwater treatment structures
- Allows 30% more water to infiltrate than a patch of grass of the same size