Irrigating Urban Agriculture with Harvested Rainwater: Case Study in Roanoke, Virginia, USA

  • Tammy E. Parece
  • Malayshia Lumpkin
  • James B. Campbell
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 47)


Considered at the global scale, urbanization forms the principal source of landscape change. Worldwide, urban areas are increasing in size, both in land area and in population, causing losses of vegetated lands, increases in impervious surface cover, and increased demands on existing infrastructure and upon municipal services such as water and waste management. Urbanization, by reducing vegetative cover and increasing impervious surfaces, alters hydrologic cycles by reducing infiltration, increasing runoff volume and rates, lowering groundwater tables, decreasing evapotranspiration, and creating precipitation anomalies. Urban greenspaces are recognized as providing environmental benefits, including reduced stormwater runoff, increased evapotranspiration, and increased subsurface infiltration, which, in turn, raise groundwater tables. Urban agriculture forms a greenspace that can provide these environmental benefits, among others, in addition to contributing to food security for local populations. This chapter provides an overview of urban agriculture and its potential benefits. Then, we provide a case study based upon the City of Roanoke, Virginia, USA. We identify areas of existing urban agriculture using aerial imagery. We discuss land available for potential new urban agricultural sites. From aerial images and city geospatial data, we identify and calculate roof areas that can be used to capture rainwater. Then using precipitation data and equations identified from the literature, we calculated amounts of rainwater that could be harvested to provide irrigation water for these locations. Finally, we discuss reductions that could occur in stormwater runoff and greenhouse gas emissions if harvested rainwater were used instead of municipal water supplies. Additionally, we discuss future research areas for urban agriculture and rainwater harvesting.


Community gardens Greenhouse gas emissions Rainwater harvesting Roanoke, Virginia, USA Urban agriculture 



This research was financially supported by Virginia Space Grant Consortium 2014/2015 Graduate Research Fellowship. This publication was developed under STAR Fellowship Assistance Agreement No. FP-91769301-0 awarded by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It has not been formally reviewed by EPA. The views expressed in this publication are solely those of Tammy Erlene Parece and coauthors. US EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tammy E. Parece
    • 1
  • Malayshia Lumpkin
    • 1
  • James B. Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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