MADISON (WKOW) -- University of Wisconsin-Madison soil scientist Doug Soldat says up to 8,000 gallons of rainwater is enough to keep the lawn green and lush through the driest weeks of summer.
Soldat and graduate student Brad DeBels installed two 4,000-gallon tanks to collect rainwater from the roof of the turfgrass facility's main building on Madison's far west side. Water from those tanks is used to irrigate nearby turf via subsurface drip irrigation lines.
The setup is a prototype for a sustainable turfgrass irrigation system that does not rely on wells, water mains, storm drains or the electrical grid.
Systems like this could make a noticeable dent in the amount of water pumped from wells and surface waters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about a third of the water piped to a typical household is used outdoors, and half of that goes to water lawns and gardens.
Having the capacity to store large volumes of water and disperse it quickly will serve well if, as climatologists suggest, Wisconsin is seeing a pattern of fewer but larger summer rainstorms.
But Soldat sees it as more than a way to water the lawn without turning on the tap.