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Irrigating Landscapes With Harvested Rainwater: A Priority or Not?

Extension Education

Lisa Strange
Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent
UF/IFAS Extension


Rationale: Irrigating landscapes in economically distressed counties is significantly less attainable than in economically stable areas. Taylor County residents were less inclined to install a barrel because of financial inhibitors to purchase, and less concerns of water savings because private wells are the source of water for both irrigation and drinking outside city limits of Perry. The motivation for saving water is not a priority when water is plentiful and at no measurable cost.Methods: Educational programming in Taylor and Hillsborough Counties have differing results. Both county's presentations include information on how to decrease potable water use in landscapes using rain barrels/cisterns. Both include demonstrations/information on how to create a rain barrel from a food grade tote, installing a spigot, reconfiguring the top of the barrel, creating overflow accommodations, use for harvested water from roof structures versus non-roof surfaces, connecting multiple barrels, painting the barrel and maintenance needed. Results: Many Hillsborough County residents attending a rainwater harvesting workshop installed the barrel provided for a $5.00 fee. Historically, the majority of survey respondents in Hillsborough (88%) harvested between 1-250 gallons per month. The remaining 12% indicated a savings average of 103-201 gallons per month. Taylor County water savings were similar to Hillsborough.In Taylor County seventy-five percent indicated after attending rainwater harvesting workshop that they had a better understanding of the purpose and practicality of a rain barrel and would purchase and install one if they could afford to do so. Fifty-two percent (n=44) of participants purchased a rain barrel after workshops for $45. In Hillsborough County the knowledge increase post workshop was eighty-five percent, and all households received a food grade barrel.Conclusion: Taylor County residents have below average incomes, median household incomes and above average poverty and illiteracy rates compared to state averages. These factors make it difficult to invest in educational programs. The workshops increased their awareness of water qualities and impacts to plants. A socioeconomic status does not seem to deter the desire to learn. If rain barrels are made available for lower costs, interested city water users will be able to report on water savings.  While Hillsborough had larger audiences because of the population difference and longevity of the program.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Lisa Strange, Lynn Barber
  1. Strange, L. Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent, UF/IFAS Taylor County Extension, Florida, 32348
  2. Barber, L. Florida-Friendly Landscaping Agent, UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension, Florida, 33584