Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011NJ273B

An Investigation of the Water Quality of Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $40,000

Principal Investigators: Michele Bakacs, Mike Haberland

Abstract: Many homeowners and community gardeners harvest rooftop runoff to irrigate vegetable crops without sampling the water for contaminates. Studies have shown that roof runoff can have high levels of pathogens, zinc, lead, and hydrocarbons. This study will examine levels of four contaminants in rain water draining off asphalt shingled roofs and collected by rain barrels; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), lead, zinc, and total coliform. In addition, we will investigate whether there is a significant difference between levels of contaminants draining roofs in different land uses, specifically, suburban verses urban communities. The results of this research will help to develop guidelines for water testing, interpreting results, and best management practices for applying harvested rain water to backyard and community gardens.