By KRISHAN PATEL
A system of pipes, water, koi fish and plants was just installed in the open area of the 300s building. Known as aquaponics, the system was created by the Renewable Project Management Club this year to lessen the waste usually generated from traditional methods of farming and fishing.
“Fish need water. Plants need water. The idea of aquaponics is to have a single source of water to provide for the needs of both,” President of the Renewable Project Management Club Jack Ren (Sr.) said.
Aquaponics projects are created in order to use shared resources to help make a sustainable environment.
“The idea of the aquaponics system is to have interaction between fish and growing plants, but using only 10% of the water used in traditional fish farming and horticulture,” Ren said. “The beauty aquaponics is that it requires no human interference to work except for adding more water every three weeks or so in order to counteract evaporation.”
Usually, the cost of building an aquaponics project would be far too high for a small organization, according to Ren. However, the RPM Club saw an opportunity in the unused 300s building planter to lessen the costs substantially.
“The total costs of all of the materials combined was only $800. Normally an aquaponics system needs a solid foundation, usually costing a couple thousand dollars or more to construct, to be built in order to handle the pressure and weight of the water,” Ren said. “The empty planter in the 300s building happened to already be perfectly suited for the job, drastically cutting costs.”
Ren said that obtaining approval for the project by the Principal, Vice Principal, and School Board was relatively easy. Construction began shortly afterwards.
“Twenty [members] physically worked on the project. The hardest part of the construction was actually the digging,” Ren said.
Aquaponics projects are not new to University High, but have never been built on a scale of that size until this year.
“This is actually the second attempt at aquaponics at University High … the first project was a portable bin filled with twenty fish, water, and seeds,” Ren said. “Six of those fish died from natural causes, but fourteen of those same fish are now thriving in their new spacious home in the 300s building.”
“It really is amazing what you can do in such a small space. It teaches you to think outside of the traditional farming box,” Vice President of the RPM Club Gracelyn Caceros (Soph.) said.
The Renewable Project Management Club has also made plans to sell naming rights to the project’s koi fish and sell the produce cultivated to local restaurants, with all proceeds going to future projects or the school.