Conserving Water

The RI Water Lady makes a big splash


Beverly O’Keefe is known as the RI Water Lady in West Kingston. She has been an avid gardener in one way, shape or form her entire life, and received this nickname after taking an interest in rainwater harvesting during a Cooperative Extension Master Gardener course at URI. “I took the course to learn more about how to garden in a sustainable and organic way,” Beverly explains. The program promotes science-based horticultural education and has an annual community service requirement for all URI certified Master Gardeners. “During the semester-long course, I discovered the benefits of rainwater harvesting and the use of rain barrels. [I] soon focused most, if not all, of my community service on promoting rain barrels and rainwater harvesting as a way to conserve our precious water supplies. Soon the Master Gardener Coordinator started calling me the ‘Water Lady’ for my interest, and this nickname became the name of my business.” 

Two ways to capture rainwater are by using a rain barrel or installing a rain garden. “A rain barrel is a garden tool – probably my favorite garden tool – as it captures soft and free rainwater harvested off the roof,” she explains. “Harvesting rainwater saves money on the water-sewer bill if the homeowner is on the public water supply. Homeowners who get their water from a private well will place less demand on the well during the summer, thus avoiding drying up their well water during periods of drought.” 

A rain garden is a flat, permeable pond area composed of soil, plants, stones and mulch that will retain water, which will then be absorbed into the ground. According to Beverly, “[It’s] another method to manage residential stormwater rather than allowing the stormwater to cause soil and plant erosion. Otherwise it would rush to the nearest stream, river, pond and bay carrying pollutants such as fertilizers, pest and plant control poisons, and heavy metals.”

RI Water Lady 72 Gardiner Road, West Kingston. 539-0667

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