Rainwater-harvesting system planned for Matchapungo Park , Tanks donated by architectural firm

Published 5:06 pm Monday, August 6, 2007

By By CHRISTINA HALE, Staff Writer
Plans for a rainwater-harvesting system at the Matchapungo Park, a cultural-heritage tourism complex to be built in Ponzer, were moved forward by a donation from Brennan Associates, the architectural firm that is working on the courthouse and public-safety building in Hyde County.
The company purchased two 10,000-gallon poly tanks for the fire-suppression sprinkler system at the Public Safety Center in Swan Quarter. After an inspection, workers determined they needed steel tanks. Gary Early, the project manager, put out word that the company would sell the tanks.
Several weeks later, Lewis Forrest, executive director of the Mattamuskeet Foundation, inquired about the tanks. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that conducts research and educational activities to preserve the history and ecology of Lake Mattamuskeet, and surrounding areas of North Carolina.
Forrest wanted the tanks to create rainwater cisterns at the park, he said.
Forrest hopes to collect rainwater from the roofs of six large metal buildings planned for the heritage-tourism park and use it “to flush toilets and irrigate the yards,” he said.
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island has a similar system, Forrest said. “It would be an environmentally friendly way to reduce stormwater runoff from over 30,000 square feet of roof space while utilizing the rainwater for practical purposes,” he said in a written statement to the Daily News.
Early decided to donate the two tanks to the foundation for the rainwater system.
Forrest has spoken with Joe Mallett, director of the aquarium, and Kathy Mitchell, staff horticulturalist there, about its system. Its rainwater is used to flush toilets and to irrigate a constructed wetland garden. The staff also provides educational tours of the rainwater-harvesting system.
The rainwater-harvesting system fits in with the foundation’s conservation-oriented mission, he said.
North Carolina State University has a group that encourages harvesting rainwater.
Once the park project is complete, it will provide 60 full-time local jobs and bring in 200,000 visitors a year, Forrest said.
“It’s a big deal. It’s going to be something that will be talked about all over the world,” he said.