Redbud Center - Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin (Winter 2008)
- Design Team: Barnes Gromatzky Kosarek Architects; Greenscape Pump Services; Jose I. Guerra, Inc.
- Construction Team: Thos. S. Byrne; Spec-All Products; Fountain Construction & Company
- System Location: 3601 Lake Austin Boulevard, Austin, Texas 79703
- Capacity: 31,000 gallons: one 11,600-gallon tank and three 6,500-gallon tanks
- Catchment Area: 16,000 square foot roof area
- Water Use: Non-potable: irrigation, toilet flushing, and water features
LCRA's new Redbud Center in Austin is a model of sustainable design, water efficiency and water conservation. This unique public facility has meeting rooms, an interpretive park with trails along the Colorado River, native demonstration gardens, and interactive water features.
The centerpiece of the facility is the rainwater harvesting system. It includes one 11,600-gallon cistern located at the entrance of the facility and three 6,500-gallon cisterns located adjacent to the main building. The cisterns have a combined capacity of 31,000 gallons. A large aqueduct connects the cistern located at the entrance of the facility to the 16,000-square-foot metal roof on the main building. On average, the system collects 250,000 gallons per year. The catchment system also collects all air conditioning condensate (about 40,000 gallons annually) generated by the building.
The harvested rainwater is used for toilet flushing, drip irrigation, and in an outdoor water feature model of the Highland Lakes demonstrating how LCRA manages its system of six dams and lakes. The three rainwater harvesting cisterns located adjacent to the building supply about 8,300 gallons monthly for toilet flush water, enough for about 6,700 flushes. During the dry summer of 2008 all toilet flushing was accomplished using water collected from air conditioning condensate. The cistern located at the entrance of the facility provides water for drip irrigation and in the re-circulating water features.
Filters and chemicals are used to reduce debris and treat contaminants in the water, respectively. Treatment is determined based on raw water quality and intended use of the harvested rainwater.
The system was designed and installed at a total cost of approximately $250,000.
LCRA's rainwater harvesting system not only minimizes potable water use through on-site collection of multiple alternative water sources (air conditioning condensate and rainwater), but also provides a prominent example of commercial rainwater harvesting at a site designed for public education. Approximately 6,000 students and 4,000 general visitors are expected to tour the facility every year. In January 2009, the Colorado River Foundation began a four hour daily curriculum for students that includes detailed information on rainwater harvesting.
Photograph courtesy of LCRA