Doing good by the gallon: Young environmentalists skip lunch to install water-conservation barrel at Slope school

Barrel of knowledge: Third-graders with Poly Prep Lower School’s Ecology Action Team rigged a water-retention barrel to their school’s gutter system, which can be expected to conserve some 28,000 gallons of water per year.
Photo by Jason Speakman

These kids are saving the environment — on their lunch break!

A handful of industrious third graders rigged a rain-collection barrel to the gutter system of their Park Slope school on Thursday, which will collect 28,000 gallons of reusable H20 a year. And they did it all during lunch, according to one water-conservation expert.

“They eat while they learn,” said Elizabeth Rosenberger, the executive director of environmental-advocacy group Barrels by the Bay, which teaches stainability practices to kids. “They’re very dedicated.”

The organization partnered with the pint-sized scholars at Poly Prep Lower School on Prospect Park West — who christened themselves the Ecology Action Team — to construct the low-tech-but-effective retention system, which will collect rainwater that would otherwise drag nasty oils and other muck off the street and into the city’s sewer system, and use it to hydrate a nearby garden instead, according to Rosenberger.

“It’s essentially preventing polluted runoff from flowing into the river and ocean,” she said.

The dedicated members of the Ecology Action Team did all the work themselves, meeting during lunch periods to learn about, decorate, and then install the 55-gallon rain barrel, which will collect enough wet stuff annually to shave roughly $146 off the school’s water bills, according to current rates.

But the project’s real value is in teaching kids the potential of retention drums, which can collect rain that can be used for such everyday tasks as watering plants and washing cars, according to Rosenberger, who said she hopes the youngsters will share their new-found knowledge with their folks and other local residents.

“It’s important for us to find an engaging and inspiring way for these students to take this message back to their communities,” Rosenberger said. “Once we increase the number of rain barrels and the amount of water than can be conserved, we can make a real impact.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Barrel of knowledge: Gregory Povetko and his classmates attach the barrel.
Photo by Jason Speakman

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