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By Robert S. Spencer, Urban Regional Extension Specialist

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The Alabama Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys Resource, Conservation, and Development Council (AMRV RC&D) recently purchased and installed a rainwater catchment system on the grounds of the Small Ruminant Outreach Center (SROC) located at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University’s Winfred Thomas Agricultural Research Station in Hazel Green, Alabama.  The SROC was established in 2011 to support the programming efforts of the Alabama Ethnic Food Security Network, which includes showcasing best management practices for sheep and goat production, as well as raising specialty vegetables.

Water is a natural resource that some would argue is in short supply. Rainwater catchment systems are ideal to reduce dependency upon fresh water. Harvesting rainwater through a catchment system used for crop irrigation also has significant benefits, i. e., crops remain organic and water usage and utility costs are greatly reduced. Unfortunately, the SROC did not have any type of rainwater control or catchment system and rainwater run-off was starting to erode areas around the physical structure. Urban Extension and the AMRV RC&D entered into a partnership agreement whereby AMRV RC&D would purchase and install a 1,100 gallon water catchment system that will be used to demonstrate sustainable agriculture. Based on one inch of rainfall, the accumulation of rainwater for this section of roof is 935 gallons. 

The process of capturing rainwater from the roofs of buildings is fairly simple, requiring a sloped roof, rainfall, a gutter, a drain pipe, and a plastic vat or barrel to hold the water until needed for irrigation. Material costs for the new system was approximately $2,500 minus the cost of installation. Most of the installation was completed by AMRV RC&D Executive Director Mike Roden and Projects Manager Jay Grantland.

Urban Regional Extension Specialist Robert Spencer stated, “The generosity of AMRV RC&D Council and staff is greatly appreciated. The rainwater catchment system lifts this facility to a whole new level. RC&D Councils throughout Alabama have always been great supporters of Extension, and champions for natural resources, education, and agriculture.”  

Visit to learn more about programs and activities of the Alabama Ethnic Food Security Network.


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