Rainwater Harvesting at New Balance Field
The latest effort to reduce water consumption on campus embraces a strategy to capture rainwater that falls on campus, store it, and re-use it for irrigation.
New Balance Field, slated to open in September, will employ this rain harvesting technology and drip irrigation to water the landscaping surrounding the field. An underground rainwater tank, with a 15,000 gallon capacity, will capture and store rainwater to be used as needed.
Using a rainwater storage tank will not completely eliminate the need to use city water, but it will reduce it drastically, according to Grounds Manager, Ray Bourgeois. The tank, which is located beneath the bus parking area at the west end of the field, will supply 80% of the site’s annual irrigation needs.
In addition to rainwater, the tank will capture and reuse the water that is released onto the field by the six water cannons used to wet the playing surface before and during field hockey games.
“A wet field allows for better play, controls the speed of the ball, and keeps the ball on the turf,” says Head Field Hockey Coach, Sally Starr, adding that it also, “allows for sliding and diving without massive abrasions. This is done particularly in goal scoring situations”. According to Starr, field wetting is required by the NCAA for post season play, but the majority of Division 1 programs wet their fields for both practice and game.
Rainwater harvesting is just the latest of the many water conservation measures the University employs. Concerted efforts to reduce water consumption on campus have been ongoing for two decades. On the Charles River Campus, consumption has dropped 31% since 1991. Since 2002, when data became available for the Medical Campus, total University water consumption has dropped by 10%.
This is in large part due to similar efforts being implemented on both campuses. Rainwater harvesting technology is also being used to water the garden at the Medical Student Residence at 815 Albany Street (a LEED registered project which is actively seeking certification).
In addition to rainwater harvesting, utilization of the drip irrigation process will help to further conserve water as it is much more efficient than traditional irrigation. Unlike a sprinkler system that sprays water across the top of foliage, a drip irrigation system nourishes plants from their roots. This requires less water and allows for targeted applications that eliminate runoff and over-watering plants, which can contribute to mold related diseases. This technology is already used in all of the planting beds along Commonwealth Avenue as part of the University’s active effort to conserve water.