Raleigh, N.C. — Even with the recent hot, dry conditions and the newest round of water restrictions, there was no shortage of water at the State Legislative Building.
Flowers in bloom, grounds all green – you’d never know there’s a drought by looking at the Legislative building.
“Every bit of water that falls here, drains right back into the system,” said Tony Goldman, administrative division director.
The system, one of the first in the state, collects rain water off the roof, sends it through drains and into underground tanks where it's used for irrigation and to fill the fountains around the building.
“We’re able to capture or use about 3 million gallons of water,” Goldman said.
Not a drop is wasted, as even the condensation from the building's air handlers drains into the system.
“It’s real simple. We’re running out of water,” said Michael Nicklas, who designed the state’s storm-water collection system and several others across the state. “The water that falls anywhere along the roof-area surfaces is all collected.”
At the new Heritage Middle School in Wake Forest, rain water is collected, then piped into the school's toilets for flushing.
North Guilford Middle School, Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh and Montessori Community School in Chapel Hill are some other schools in the area that use the storm-water system.
Although the projects are new, Dr. Michael Walden, an economist with N.C. State, said there are things to consider like cost and future weather conditions.
“It’s a question of is this going to persist? And if so, what are the upfront costs compared to the long-run benefits?” he said.
The state paid more than $250,000 for the system. It saves an estimated 2 million gallons of water each year - water that otherwise would have gone down the drain.
Even without rain, the system collects three gallons an hour from condensation from the 47 air handlers. Officials said the state invested $125,000 in the Legislative building’s landscape.