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"We love to tackle projects that impact people directly where everyone has the opportunity to be 'hands on' and empowered to make a difference," says Cragnolin. "Conservation and protection of our water resources is in everyone's best interest and through the project homeowners all over the watershed can participate one house, one neighborhood, one sub watershed at a time."

"For the first time here in western NC we need to find solutions for water quantity not just water quality," says Ingram. "We are seeing alarmingly low levels of groundwater despite the relatively high levels of precipitation of the past 18 months or so." Groundwater is the water that is stored in the soil and replenishes our water supplies," Ingram continues. "At the same time, we're seeing increasingly dangerous and costly flooding from heavy rain events that increase expenses for property owners in Asheville."

WaterLinks, PLLC is leading the way on the technical aspects of LinkingWaters. The project also seeks to learn how use of these methods can positively impact neighborhoods in terms of job creation, community building, and local food security. If that sounds like a bold plan, it is. "We're starting small, with just one site," says Smith, "but we're definitely doing this because we think the idea can grow to have a massive positive impact for people in Asheville and other cities that face similar difficulties."

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"For the first demonstration site we've focused on rainwater infiltration methods that any homeowner can install using tools no more complex than a shovel," explained Ingram. "Rain barrels are great, and RiverLink has some really nice ones available, but they are just part of a multi faceted approach to capturing the rain that falls in our neighborhoods." According to Friedman, "By using simple permaculture techniques hundreds of years old, water can be stored in the soil less expensively and in more useful form than in even the largest rain water harvesting tanks. When water is stored in the soil, plants can irrigate themselves with no work on our part and less water is lost to evaporation."

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´╗┐Systems Approach to Reclaiming Water

side of Town Branch to serve as a control site where no water reclamation methods will be installed.

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LinkingWaters, a RiverLink project located in Asheville's East Riverside neighborhood, has finalized the first demonstration site for an innovative whole systems approach to reclaiming water in urban neighborhoods for creating green jobs, restoring the environment and growing fresh, healthy food.

Ace Hardware North Asheville is the project's first business sponsor. "We're so happy to be partnering with a great locally owned business like Ace Hardware North Asheville. We want LinkingWaters to help build a stronger local economy," says Smith. The project also received a seed grant from the Harris and Frances Block Foundation.

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Saucony Omni

Jordan Environmental donated the installation of two groundwater monitoring wells, one on Smith's property and one on a neighbor's property on the other Saucony Triumph Iso 3

So what's next for LinkingWaters? LinkingWaters organizers hope to convince 10 more neighbors in this neighborhood sub watershed to join the project. They also aim to attract participation in planning and implementing Phases 2 and 3 from a broad base of local, county and state stakeholders.

of WaterLinks, PLLC, believes many of the urban water reclamation methods that have proven so successful in desert cities like Tuscon, Arizona and Los Angeles could be adapted for our WNC climate and terrain to help solve a full spectrum of problems connected to our water in Asheville.

Smith, who lives across the street from one section of Town Branch (known historically as Nasty Branch) in the East Riverside area, offered to let her property serve as the first demonstration site, complete with systems for measuring water infiltration levels such as groundwater and sediment transport.

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"Everyone involved in the LinkingWaters project believes this triple collaboration between a non profit organization, a for profit business and an Asheville city homeowner boosts the idea's potential to solve an array of problems and save enormous amounts of money," adds Cragnolin from the RiverLink offices in Asheville's River Arts District.

Smith proposed the project to Karen Cragnolin, Executive Director of RiverLink in March 2010. Ingram, a professional geologist and owner Saucony Dirty Snow 6000

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"RiverLink was the natural non profit partner for this project," explains Smith, "since rain from my property runs off into Town Branch which flows directly into the French Broad less than a mile away."

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Saucony Omni

Zev Friedman, a local expert in whole systems permaculture designs for urban landscapes and owner of Living Systems Design, led the design and installation process for Smith's site which served as training opportunities for Asheville Green Opportunities Saucony Omni interns and volunteers from Transition Asheville and RiverLink. According to Smith, project organizers were especially eager to partner with Asheville GO because they believe that interest in the most efficient methods of reclaiming and storing water in urban neighborhoods will grow and create a demand for people who are skilled at applying these techniques.

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