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Bill Rawlinson: We can all do our part to alleviate problems

Jul. 06, 2011 @ 12:17 AM

Every city has problems and, typically, its citizens wait on the government to solve them. However, some problems can only be fixed with a combined effort of the citizenry along with official policies and infrastructure. A prime example of this can be found right here in Huntington -- excess drain water. That is rain water that collects upon and floods our city streets.

It's a well known fact that our infrastructure is old and can't always handle the surges of water we get, especially during unseasonably heavy spring rains like we had this year. However, there is something we, as individual citizens, can do to help alleviate the problem. We can each practice better water and drainage management techniques. To start, we could each install a rain barrel on our property.

A rain barrel is a large plastic or wooden barrel that can be attached to one of your downspouts. The barrel then collects upwards of 55 gallons of water before filling completely. Over the course of a normal year a roof can be used to harvest more than 2,000 gallons of water (though you would need to utilize more than one rain barrel to reach this level). This water is effectively free (reduces your home water bill) and it can be used for a variety of purposes including watering your garden to washing your cars.

We have three rain barrels around our house and we use them all summer and well into the fall. We purchased two of them from the city of Hurricane. Along with the barrel they provide you with a bit of pipe and a spigot so you can easily attach a hose to the bottom of the barrel so you can distribute the water where you most need it around your property. Each barrel cost us $35. The barrels Hurricane provides are bright blue but you can spray paint them any color so that they blend into your yard.

Another effective, and even cheaper, way to help reduce the strain on our city's sewer and drain system is to properly direct the flow of water that comes from your downspout. A common misconception many people have is that they must get the rain water off of their property as quickly as possible. To that end, they use extenders and attempt to direct all of the water to their street where it can quickly join into the city's sewer system. However, the best practice is to direct the water to your own yard and let the water seep into the earth gradually. Some of it will still make it into the sewer system, but most of it will be absorbed and thus relieve our aging infrastructure.

If you would like to get a rain barrel, I encourage you to contact Hurricane City Hall at 304-562-5896. They also occasionally have a rain barrel clinic. Then, while you're installing your rain barrels, take a few minutes to direct your other downspouts to a central part of your yard to help divert water from the sewer system.

Drainage water and street flooding do not have to be a problem for Huntington and, if we all work together, it is a problem we can solve.

This and many other ways to get involved to help make Huntington a better place are discussed weekly at the Create Huntington Chat 'n Chew in the lobby of the Frederick Building (outside the 21 at the Frederick). Join us each Thursday evening from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Bill Rawlinson is a lifelong nomad who has settled down and claimed Huntington as his home.

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