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Sadman Islam, Mark Lefsrud, Jan Adamowski, Blake Bissonnette and Allison Busgang

Increasing stress on urban water demand has led to the exploration of the potential of rainwater use and water recycling to promote sustainable water resources management. Rainwater harvesting (RWH) not only has the potential to reduce water demand but also contributes to other sustainable objectives, including reducing stormwater pollutant loads, reducing erosion, and inducing natural flow regimes by means of flood control, in urban streams. This research involved the design, construction, and field-testing of an RWH system used to irrigate greenhouses at the Macdonald Campus of McGill University in Quebec, Canada. The purpose of the RWH system was to collect rainwater from a roof area of ≈610 m2 (the Horticulture Services Building on the Macdonald Campus of McGill University) to meet the irrigation demands of the two Horticulture Research Center greenhouses on the campus (≈149 m2 each) from May to October. Over its two years of operation, it was found that the amount of rainwater collected did not only meet the peak irrigation demands of the greenhouses (which amounted to almost 700 gal of water per day), but that there was also enough water for the irrigation of the nearby student-run gardens. The harvested rainwater was clear and did not cause any harm to the plants. The major problem that was experienced during the operation of the RWH system was that of algae growth in one of the water collection tanks. This issue was resolved by covering the tank with metallic green wallpaper, thereby blocking most of the sunlight from entering the tank. The RWH system is currently being used for irrigation and as a demonstration project to promote the learning of sustainable technologies on campus and in the surrounding communities.