I am happy to share this brochure both for my design, photos and illustrations and for the information it offers.
As we try to protect our water supplies and mitigate the chance of flooding during heavy rainfall, communities across the country are delivering information on disconnecting home downspouts which, when the homes were built, delivered rainwater from the roof of the house into the local sewer system.
This was an acceptable idea years ago when there weren’t so many homes and other buildings and far less impervious pavement in roads, parking lots and large structures. The idea was to collect and deliver rainwater into the nearest body of flowing water so that it could be carried away in the natural flow of things.
But with much more land covered with pavement, sewer systems designed and built a century ago don’t have the capacity to carry the runoff generated today, and any amount that can be detained in any way helps the overall system locally. Depending on the detention system a homeowner chooses to use it can also help to save money—using a rain barrel offers a ready source of water for gardens and outdoor uses such as washing a car or your sidewalks, and less water flowing through your community’s sewer system saves on your sewage bill in both capacity and upkeep.
I designed this for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council through its office in Pittsburgh. The brochure is intended to be given to participants at downspout disconnect workshops and other workshops that deal with flood mitigation, such as rainbarrel workshops and landscape workshops concerning rain gardens and small detention areas. They’ll also be distributed to local communities for distribution to residents.
The brochure explains the need for redirecting rainwater and offers ideas for solutions, plus offers guidance on determining if a homeowner is permitted to disconnect their downspout for local legislation and technical reasons. The accompanying insert illustrates the process of cutting the downspout, capping off the line into the ground, and adding a redirect to the end of the downspout.
The organization composed the copy for the brochure and provided the photos of the rainbarrels and the rain garden. I provided the background images and the illustrations.
We first searched for illustrations in other literature, but none were available for public use. That was okay with me because, after seeing these illustrations in so many other brochures and websites I was happy to try my hand at illustrating this issue I’d been working with for years.
I decided to use pencil for the illustrations instead of ink to soften them and make them look less rigid than the typical line art illustrations I’d always seen. I’ve also seen this sketchy sort of style recently used in home repair, remodeling and gardening magazines and books, so people attempting this might feel more comfortable with a style they were accustomed to and a less technical approach.
I have maintained both a rain barrel and a rain garden at my home for nearly 20 years. Even though my downspouts never entered my local sewer system, I still wanted to do something constructive with the rainwater to both keep it from flooding my basement and running off wherever it pleased. I constructed a rain garden on one side of my house with an extension from my downspout that charges it whenever it rains. I also have a rainbarrel in the back of my house that I use to water my garden, though it’s cracked now and needs to be replaced. For as many times as I helped to organize and host rainbarrel workshops locally, I never had the chance to make one of my own—we always had enough interest that I gave up my barrel to someone else who showed up late or wanted to make more than one. It’s easy to illustrate these things when you use them already!