5/10/2012 10:00:00 PM Nonprofit's low-cost rainwater harvesting system benefits local programs for needy
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier Jim Storelli and Mike Dummeyer with the Coalition for Compassion and Justice’s Home Repair Program level blocks as they install a state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting system at Toni Kaus’ Prescott home on Monday.
Jason Soifer The Daily Courier
Toni Kaus is trying to do her part to conserve water.
Kaus already took some steps at her home to cut water use, and now she's looking skyward to further cut her consumption.
"We're just kind of cautious about water use," she said. "We've really tried to strive for those things."
A few volunteers with The Coalition for Compassion and Justice went to Kaus' home on Monday to install a new rainwater harvesting system.
Kaus had looked into installing a similar system to catch rainwater and use it to water trees, birds and a vegetable patch.
But the $2,000 to $3,000 bid Kaus got a couple of years ago seemed a bit too costly.
"That seemed to be too much for the impact it would have," she said.
This rainwater catch system is costing her $400, and that's a big deal to Kaus.
"I can do something that I feel good about, and it's not something that's going to break the bank," she said.
According to Kaus' water bill, water consumption at her home is below 1,500 gallons from January through March.
Beginning in April, it begins to rise above that mark, and it steadily rises through June at just over 6,000 gallons.
It takes a slight dip in July, and then hits its peak in September, when it breaks through the 7,500-gallon barrier.
Kaus expects the system to lower that bill.
"I think it will help, and it will be kind of fun to do," she said.
The nonprofit is offering to install a 55-gallon storage system for $150, a 110-gallon system for $200 and a 165-gallon system runs $250.
Michael Dummeyer, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer/outreach coordinator for CCJ, said Kaus' home is the third install since the program began in March, and they have another five prospective clients showing some interest in it.
Dummeyer said it's a win for everyone involved because their volunteers can install it quickly, the homeowner gets a credit and the nonprofit uses the money for its home repair program, benefiting low-income residents.
"We have the skill set, we have the need, we think there are too many benefits not to do this," he said. "This provides us the opportunity to capitalize on many causes benefiting the community."
The way it works is someone from the home repair program does an assessment, then schedules the installation, which takes about 90 minutes, according to Dummeyer.
"Once it's in, it's in and it's available for the homeowner to use," he said.
The rainwater harvesting system is a fundraiser for the nonprofit's home re-
pair program, according Director Sharon Andersen.
"We hope that everybody in town gets one of these," she said.
Prescott True Value Hardware, Olsen's Grain and Yavapai Block are helping the nonprofit defer costs. Andersen said the goal is to generate about $4,500 from the water harvesting system installations to cover costs from the home repair program.
Andersen said their volunteers do about 90 home repairs from that program annually.
Credit for the water harvesting system goes to volunteers Fred Bartlett and his wife, Tina.
Retired engineers, Tina and Fred began working with the Coalition for Compassion and Justice about a year ago.
Tina said they installed a single-barrel version of the system at their home this past summer and shared the idea with the nonprofit in November 2011.
"It's about helping people help themselves," she said.
Shaun Rydell, water conservation coordinator for the City of Prescott, said cost is the main hurdle with water harvesting systems.
"Now CCJ's product is pretty reasonable," she said.
While she estimates that Kaus could see a modest $3 to $4 monthly savings on her water bill, Rydell said homeowners have other reasons to install one of these systems.
"The reason people catch rainwater is because their desire is to reduce or eliminate outdoor water use with drinking supplies," she said. "It's a great program. It's a great starter rainwater system."