Rainwater harvesting turns weather into resource

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While for children, an incoming storm typically brings sighs and choruses of, “Rain, rain, go away”, for property owners and managers with rainwater harvesting systems on-site, however, regular downpours can mean a smaller water bill.

Rain_Water_HarvestRainwater harvesting is the ancient practice of collecting and storing rainwater for later use. Modern rainwater harvesting systems work by collecting rainwater, typically from the roofs of homes or institutional, commercial or industrial buildings, storing it in a large tank, and then utilizing a pump and pressure system to distribute the rainwater to connected plumbing fixtures. In the main, still to this day, however, rainwater harvesting is still the simple way of using a rain barrel attached to the downspout of the gutter.

In Britain it was mentioned some years ago that every newly built home was to have a rainwater harvesting system installed the water of which was then to be used for flushing toilets and washing the car, watering the garden, and such like. So far, it would appear though, this has not been implemented.

The modern rainwater harvesting systems can have elaborate treatment methods that use chlorine or ultra-violet (UV) lamps for disinfection, or simply use screens to remove debris like leaves and twigs. Ultimately, the treatment methods employed depend on what the property is using the rainwater for.

What benefits does rainwater harvesting offer property owners and tenants?

Rainwater harvesting systems allow property owners and tenants to use rainwater as a resource instead of having to remove it through roof drains, eaves troughs or parking lot catch basins.

Another benefit is that rainwater use reduces municipal water consumption, which helps cut down on a building’s water bill. It also reduces the need for municipalities to treat and pump water, a process that is both chemically and energy intensive.

Farms and rural households have engaged in rainwater harvesting for centuries but in urban centers it is relatively new.

It must also be considered that while in Britain and Canada and most other countries rainwater harvesting is legal it is not in a great many of US Federal States and in many local areas even if the state does not have a blanket ban on harvesting rainwater.

When harvesting rainwater from the roof it is best not to use it for potable use, that is to say for drinking and cooking, etc., even if the various forms of treatment are used because of materials on the roof that could be dangerous to health and which, possibly, cannot be removed by treatment.

But, even if “only” used for the other uses the savings can be immense and that means saving for your pocket and for the Planet. So, let's go an make some rain barrels and harvest some rain.

© 2013