The Town of Boone Public Works Department (PWD) provides many services to town residents, including solid waste management, recycling programs, and street and facilities maintenance. Due to its high elevation, Boone is known for relatively harsh, cold winters and, on average, receives 102 centimeters of snowfall each year; therefore, snow and ice removal is a large component of the PWD’s responsibilities during the winter months. As part of their snow and ice removal process, the town of Boone applies a salt brine solution to roads before precipitation begins, which prevents ice from forming on the road surface. This brine solution is approximately 23% salt solution, or 6,000 lbs salt for every 2,000 gal of water. The PWD is responsible for approximately 80 mi of streets and 12 mi of sidewalk and uses an average of 50,200-60,760 gal of brine solution annually. In the spring and summer months, the PWD is responsible for maintaining town- owned landscapes, which includes irrigating flower beds and median strips, and periodic washing of vehicles and equipment is necessary for maintenance purposes. Approximately 30,115 gal of water is used for irrigation purposes during the non-winter months, roughly 35,900 gal is used for vehicle and equipment washing and about 59,970 gal is used for street sweeping and sidewalk washing.
The NCSU Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department received funding from a DENR, EPA 319 grant to install Rainwater Harvesting Systems (cisterns) as an innovative stormwater management practice in four cities across North Carolina. Boone was a recipient of one of the cisterns because of the collaborative efforts of Watauga County Extension and the Town of Boone. The cistern in Boone is buried about 5 ft in the ground for regulating temperatures and has a pump station to get the water where it needs to go. NCSU BAE has installed a data logger in the cistern to collect water usage data every 10 minutes.
This system provides water conservation, quantity and quality benefits for the Public Works compound. Over 31,000 gallons of stored rainwater was used in 2009 instead of potable water, saving approximately $242 per year. When this amount of water is captured instead of leaving the site as surface runoff, the amount of stormwater released to the drainage system is substantially reduced having a positive impact on local streams.