SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sarah Smith hopes to collect enough rainwater to wash her vehicles, do laundry, shower in, fill her aquarium and maybe supply her drinking water one day.
She was one of about 60 people that attended a free rainwater-harvesting workshop Saturday at Rock Lake Presbyterian Church in South Charleston.
"I started thinking about [collecting rainwater], but knew I needed more information," Smith said. "I'm here today to figure out how to do that."
Smith, who lives in South Charleston, had thought about implementing her own rainwater harvesting system even before the Jan. 9 chemical leak into the Elk River that contaminated the region's water supply.
Smith first thought about collecting rainwater herself last summer when she saw decorated rainwater barrels at an arts and crafts festival she attended. From there she started reaching out to people to find out more.
"I can remember I went to Mount Rainier a few years back, and there was some water coming off the mountain in an area I could get to and drink," Smith said. "I kind of think of that a lot. It's the connection and cooperation with nature that's appealing."
Smith said Saturday's workshop helped her get closer to implementing her own system. She's been more motivated to start her rainwater harvesting since the chemical leak.
That's what Crystal Cook, of We Are All Farmers, was hoping for.
Cook lives in North Carolina and has a permaculture farm she operates with her husband. They focus on connecting the people of Appalachia with the land and resources they have.
"A big part of my family lives in those nine counties affected by the water contamination," Cook said. "Access to water is a huge issue."
Cook wondered what she could do to help people find solutions to water issues.
As soon as schedules opened up, she headed to Charleston to hopefully stimulate awareness and cooperation among people affected by the ongoing water crisis, she said.
"It's important for all of us to go back and have those traditional Appalachian resources," Cook said. "It's important to have this knowledge even if you are not using it immediately."
Via Skype, attendees listened to Jeremiah Kidd talk about methods to create active rainwater harvesting systems. Kidd is stationed in Santa Fe, N.M., at San Isidro Permaculture Institute.