Storm Sewers “Waste” Water?

Rainbarrels capture rainfall via any downspout

This evening Chesnut Ecology Club Parent Sponsors Elizabeth Davis and Angela Renals attended a rainbarrel workshop given by the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR), an organization that protects the Chattahoochee. Far beyond presenting a simple “how-to” on rainbarrel construction (it really is so easy), UCR’s Bonny Putney opened our eyes to Atlanta’s watershed issues and how we can help conserve water. Did you know?

  • The Chattahoochee River watershed (which captures water from many creeks, streams, Lake Lanier, rainfall, etc. to supply all our water) is the smallest in the country serving a metropolitan (densely populated) area.
  • All of the lakes in Georgia are man-made to contain water for our consumption because otherwise it just flows downriver to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Ideally rainwater is absorbed into the earth, soaking into a natural underground reservoir, and then seeps back into the river as water levels go down.
  • In our developed areas, rainwater rolls off concrete, pavement and bare earth, eventually finding its way to storm sewers that lead to the Chattahoochee. Rather than being naturally captured and stored underground for times of drought, this water empties into the Gulf before it can be absorbed into the earth (ultimately to supply our watershed).
  • Power plants use a lot of water (so energy efficiency = water conservation). For example, it takes two bathtubs of water to run your fridge for one day.
  • One sprinkler running for one hour uses 360 gallons of water!

UCR’s Bonny Putney did such a good job teaching us about our watershed, we had to invite her to our April 10th after-school ecology club meeting about the water cycle. She’ll be there!


  1. Watch “Tapped Out: The Drying Up of Atlanta” to learn about North Georgia’s water crisis and what you can do at home to help (
  2. Visit the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper website ( for tips about water and energy conservation
  3. Get a rebate from Dekalb County when you replace your old toilet with a water-conserving toilet (

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