Capturing and reusing runoff water from plastic

This post was repubilshed with permission from the author.  The original was published in the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau ‘Between the Furrows’ Newsletter, July 2012.

By Rich Casale, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Storm water runoff from plastic covered landscapes in the Pajaro Valley amounts to millions of gallons of water every year. Consider the facts: one inch of rain falling on one acre of hoop houses, plastic cover beds, or green houses equals approximately 27,000 gallons of water! That’s about 625 gallons for every 1000 square feet of impervious surface and that’s only with one inch of rainfall. If the Valley receives an average of 20 inches of rainfall in a season then that quickly adds up to 540,000 gallon or 1.7 acre feet of water per acre. It would be amazing if the runoff from all plastic covered landscapes and roof tops in the Valley could be captured and reused for irrigation and/or to recharge the Pajaro Valley groundwater basin. The amount of water realized might come close or even exceed what is needed to resolve the current groundwater basin deficit. NRCS expects that the growth and use of hoop houses only to grow steadily in the coming years in both Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. With this rising use and continued interest will come more runoff and other associated issues, including: localized flooding, drainage problems, soil erosion, and complaints by neighbors. NRCS can provide information and technical assistance to growers considering the installation of one or more hoop houses including ideas on how to capture, recycle, and reuse runoff so that runoff water does not cause problems while helping to reduce the demand on groundwater resources at the same time.

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