by Mary Beth Radeck
The Environmental Sustainability team at Roosevelt University’s Schaumburg campus teamed up in late June to install the first-ever drip irrigation into the community garden, now in it third growing season in 2014.
Previously, water barrels were filled and irrigation consisted of hand-carried buckets, a time-intensive practice. Two years in the making, Environmental Sustainability interns Mary Beth Radeck, Kevin Markowski and Mary Rasic partnered with Pedro Perez, Chief Engineer at the Schaumburg Campus, to plan and execute this improvement. The team expects to save up to 50% of the water used to irrigate the garden this year—thus reducing the effort and costs of irrigation, but also improving the environment, too.
Drip irrigation delivers water slowly, at low pressure near the plant’s roots, so that none is wasted and less water evaporates. Usually used with flower beds and gardens or hard to water areas, drip is more efficient and effective than spray irrigation, and much more precise by allowing maximum control over how much water is given to each individual plant. Control of the water reduces runoff and erosion, as well.
A drip system is easy to install and even available at local home improvement centers such as Home Depot. Every garden should have one, especially as water costs rise and water sources — whether deep or shallow wells or, in the case of Schaumburg, Lake Michigan — continue to be stressed by pollution, climate change, and urban development. For more information on drip irrigation and other water-saving methods, see the WaterSense website of the EPA.