The Whole HOG: January 2012

                            The Whole HOG
                           Water-centric Green Design News

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding” (the fourth poem of Four Quartets)

Happy New Year! We’re taking a cue from T.S. Eliot and embracing new beginnings in 2012. What better way to create the new than with the upcycled old?

“Freedom is responsibility to explore,” says Sourabh Phadke, 25-year-old architect and ecology teacher whose radical focus on upcycling trash to build schools and homes in India is the subject of our B.U.G. Design section.

Speaking of voices, we want to hear yours in our beginning of the year customer satisfaction survey. We’re offering a discount to say thanks once you’ve completed the survey. (*You must have purchased a HOG tank within the last 5 years in order to be eligible.)

Brrr, it’s cold outside. We talked with distributor Frank Koll, of GreenScapes Lawn and Garden Service, who has firsthand experience with winterizing HOG tanks. Check out his tips on preparing your HOG system for the winter season.

January 2012: HOG Customer Satisfaction Survey

We’ve put together a 10-question survey to take stock of how HOG tanks are working for you. What do you like most? What would you change? Here’s your chance to sound-off on what’s  good, what’s inspired, and what needs improvement when it comes to your modular Rainwater HOG catchment system.

Click here to take the survey.

In order to complete the survey, you’ll need to have purchased (and preferably installed) at least one Rainwater HOG tank in the last five years.

Inspired to add to your home HOG herd?Contact us at for a discount on an additional HOG tank purchase once you’ve completed the survey.

January 2012: Toilet Flush at Hall Middle School

5-4-3-2-and 1! Toilet Flush is a Go!

2011 Green Plumber of Year for the Western Region Jamie Rogers of Rogers Remodel Inc. recently revisited the three HOG installation at Hall Middle School in Larkspur, California. The word is in: a toilet is flushing at Hall Middle School using rainwater gathered from HOG tanks!

Here’s what he has to say about working with Rainwater HOG tanks:

“After working with the HOG installation at two schools this past year, it confirmed how I felt. The product is easy to work with and very versatile. I love recommending [Rainwater HOG tanks] to clients of all types because of its low profile, varied uses, and economical benefits.”

Of the installation at Hall Middle School, he says:

“The second school in Marin was one where we connected the tanks to a toilet. The teachers, students, and staff were very excited about flushing this toilet with rainwater.”

January 2012: HOGs in Winter

Is it snowing where you are? It is in Arlington, MA. We checked in with Frank Koll of GreenScapes Lawn and Garden Services, an irrigation contractor and  Rainwater HOG distributor. New England-based (and snow-tested) Frank gave us the lowdown on preparing water catchment systems for winter, East Coast style.

Essential for making your HOGs–and all water capture containers–winter-ready is to drain them of water before it freezes. Frozen water can make HOG tanks bulge, although unlike other rainwater tanks they won’t crack or splinter.

Frank offers his clients an annual maintenance program. This season he winterized 16 HOGs. Who knew HOGs could hibernate?

Frank Koll of GreenScapes stores his demonstration HOG tanks outside, a testament to  their weather-proof durability. Look closely to find them camouflaged in snow above. The downspout has been diverted to lead the gutter run-off at least 10 feet from the house foundation. Come summer, Frank will attach the tanks to the downspout and water his backyard edible garden with rainwater.

“Rainwater HOG tanks are a great solution for urban clients who have small spaces for water capture,” says Frank, identifying the small footprint and modular design of the tanks as additional draws for his East Coast clients.

New England weather is infamously fickle – variations can be extreme even within one season. At GreenScapes, the philosophy is to keep water cycling systematically through the landscape. Clients receive a seasonal audit to check in with the health of their lawns, gardens and irrigation systems. Irrigation and rainwater storage equipment that maximize the use of harvested rainwater for each site are implemented and maintained, along with overflow management and winter preparedness strategies.

“Winterization is a component of issues faced in the Northeast, Northwest, the Midwest, and Canada,” says Frank. Many of his clients have HOG tanks on balconies to water gardens. He prepared these HOG systems for winter simply by draining them using gravitational force. For underground HOG installations, he used an air compressor with 30 to 40 psi to remove remaining water. He uses this same forced air method (at a higher psi) for traditional in-ground systems.

Other rain barrels or units required different approaches. Wooden rain barrels, including whiskey barrels, must be relocated indoors for winter storage.  Not the HOGs, which were left outside with the diverters or downspouts redirected.

Early in the establishment of GreenScapes Lawn and Garden Services, Frank recognized that water management would be a cornerstone of his organic lawn approach. “Irrigation methods need to be dynamically managed so that plants stay healthy and water usage is optimized,” he explains.

Further questions about winterizing your HOG tanks? E-mail us at

January 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

                                                   Sourabh Phadke

Sally writes, “In December last year I MC’d three inspiring days of stories and ideas at the Humanitarian Engineering Conference in Melbourne.  A standout was Sourabh Phadke, a passionate Indian architect, philosopher and teacher who helps slum children build their own schools out of materials other people call junk.

Sourabh Phadke stands in front of the home he is building – made of earth, straw, and ‘junk’ – at the Aman Setu School in Wagholi, India.

Why is it beautiful?  Sourabh brings many streams of education to the slum kids: how to build a structure from bottles, mud and plastic bags; how to create a functional place of community; and how to manage ablutions in a hygienic and useful way.  His message is clear, his graphics are simple, and his passion is admirable.

Why is it useful? Sourabh uses an iron to melt plastic bags together, creating tarpaulins for waterproofing his buildings. He cuts up plastic bottles to make gutters, downspouts and air vents for the walls. His resourceful work is the epitome of usefulness.

Why is it green? Sourabh doesn’t merely recycle rubbish, he upcycles waste packaging into useful, long lasting structures.  Would that more communities did the same.

To find out more about Sourabh’s philosophy of equitable living through equitable building, read the Sakaal Times article.

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. Designs.