Among many recent sustainability initiatives, the Park District of Oak Park is planning the installation of a cistern (underground reservoir for holding water) at multiple parks.

“The park district is currently out to bid for a cistern at Longfellow Park,” said Executive Director Jan Arnold. “The cistern is planned to be above ground to capture roof rainwater as well as the water from the splash pad during summer use. This water will be repurposed for sports field irrigation.

“Additionally, the cistern will save annual watering costs at this site. More importantly, it helps with the conservation of water which is such a precious natural resource.”

The park district hired Manhard, an engineering firm, to design the cistern system and oversee its installation. The project is targeted for completion sometime this spring.

Last summer, the park board approved the installation of a cistern at Longfellow Park as part of the park district’s 2016 Capital Improvement Plan.

While the exact gallon amount for the cistern is undetermined, it will be positioned above ground near the southeast corner of the Longfellow Center

“Longfellow Park uses about 12,000 gallons of water weekly just from kids playing on the splash pad,” Arnold said. “It takes about 10,000 gallons a week to irrigate the field at Longfellow. The cistern will help save on water costs.”

A cistern is also being installed for stormwater harvesting at the new Environmental Education Center slated to open this summer in Austin Gardens. The grand opening festivities will take place on June 11.

“We look forward to the opening of the Austin Gardens Environmental Education Center [AGEEC] in June,” Arnold said. “In addition to the cistern, this Platinum LEED-designed facility will be a showcase for sustainable design, featuring a geo-thermal system, solar panels, a green roof and an energy-efficient building envelope. The AGEEC project is a great way to educate residents on conservation of water.”

The installation of a cistern at Field Park is in the park district’s CIP plan for 2017.

The Oak Park Conservatory already has a 400-gallon cistern which was installed as part of the overall renovation project. The underground cistern captures rainwater and then repurposes it to irrigate the Elsie Jacobsen Discovery Garden.

“We also installed a bioswale at the Conservatory, in partnership with the village,” Arnold said. “The bioswale filters storm water through native plants and a mixture of soil, organic compost and sand to remove harmful pollutants before releasing it into the storm drain system and back into our local waterways.”

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...