Add rainwater harvesting to the long (very long) list of sustainability initiatives undertaken by the U.S. military. In Hawaii, the Army is developing a full scale rainwater harvesting system for its Schoefield Barracks on Oahu, which will be used to irrigate landscaping at the site. The icing on the sustainability cake is the system’s water storage tank. Instead of shipping in a new piece of equipment, the Army will reclaim an existing abandoned tank found on the site. But wait, there’s more…
The Military, Sustainability and Hawaii
Hawaii’s unique challenges with fossil fuels and other resources has made it a prime candidate for rapid transition to renewable energy and conservation, and the state has come through with a broad series of initiatives. Military bases in the state have been part and parcel of the move. One recent example is a new solar power installation at Pearl Harbor. The Hawaii Army Weekly details many more actions in an eight-page feature on sustainability, which articulates how the Army has entwined sustainability into its mission: “Energy and water are key enablers of Army readiness, in preserving our freedom of action and in being good stewards of the nation’s financial and natural resources.”
Rainwater Harvesting at Schofield Barracks
The new rainwater harvesting system began as a volunteer Eagle Scout project, and it will be completed in 2011. In addition to the aforementioned reclaimed storage tank, the system will use solar energy to power its pump and irrigation controllers. It is also designed as a “smart” system, with a built-in weather station that will adjust the rate of irrigation to allow for precipitation. This particular system is somewhat modest in scale, but writer Hayley Diamond of the Army’s Public Works Environmental Division draws attention to the potential capacity of larger systems in Hawaii. For example, Kilaue Military Camp has a rainwater harvesting system that collects about 11.5 million gallons annually.
Rainwater Harvesting for Civilians, Too
The adoption of rainwater harvesting by the U.S. military helps to demonstrate the practicality of the concept to a wider audience of potential users. Another iconic American institution – baseball – is also at work in the mix: last season, the Minnesota Twins installed a rainwater harvesting system to irrigate grounds at their stadium.
Image: Rainwater Harvesting System courtesy of U.S. Army/Hayley Diamond.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.