Rainwater harvesting provides an environmentally-conscious and sustainable source for water usage in and around your residence. In this blog you will find valuable information and tips on how to harness rainwater.
A Wasteful Tradition
Relatively clean water falls on our properties; flows into the street, into the gutter, then through a labyrinth of pipes. This water gets increasingly dirty along its journey to a stream and a water treatment facility. Energy and chemicals are used in water-treatment facilities to clean the water of the pollutants it picked up on its journey. Finally, more energy is used to pump this cleaned water through another labyrinth of leaking pipes to end its journey back at the properties where the journey began. To make matters worse, much of this high-embodied-energy water is used to perform tasks such as collecting and flushing human and other waste.
A More Sustainable Alternative
Rainwater harvesting allows us to collect the rain that falls on our property, store it in a tank, and use it when needed. These uses can be as simple as watering the lawn, or for household non-potable (low-quality water not sufficient for consumption) and even potable needs (high quality water suitable for consumption) where not prohibited by law. For the latter, the water will need to be filtered and tested to insure it is safe; however this is rarely a problem that cannot be overcome. For every 1,000 square feet of roof area, around 600 gallons of water can be collected for every inch of rain.
Which Rainwater Harvesting System is Best?
Rain barrels are a good first step, but quickly become inadequate if you are serious about rainwater collection and use. A standard barrel can contain 60 to 80 gallons, a fraction of the collection potential from a typical roof. For those who want to start small and build storage capacity in a step-by-step way, modular setups are an eco-friendly and water efficient solution. Modular systems can be aesthetically pleasing and versatile. Many can be oriented vertically or horizontally and stored along a wall or fence, under a deck or in some other convenient location. Start with a number and capacity you can afford and manage and, as you are able, add more. Installation is simple and connects easily with other modules. For those ready to put in a larger system from the start (e.g. 1,500+ gallons), a modern cistern is a water saving solution. New versions of this centuries-old system can be located either above or below ground and offer both a safe water supply and almost unlimited storage capacity.
Who to Call?
The Green Directory on the GPD website will help you find green professionals that install rain water harvesting systems in your area. You can also ask a green pro any specific questions you may have on the “Ask a Green Pro” forum and find additional educational resources on rainwater harvesting and other topics in the Green Living Resources of the Green Pro Directory website.