The Benefits of Collecting Rainwater
Did you know that 70% of the earth is covered in water but only 1% is drinkable? Research suggests that by 2030 demand for fresh drinking water will outweigh supply. That’s a scary thought that in less than 10 years we could have a global drinking water crisis. So what can we, as individuals do to ensure this doesn’t occur? We can start by collecting rainwater.
What is rain harvesting
Collecting rainwater or rain harvesting is collecting rainwater to use as an alternative water supply to current water supply methods. The collected water can be used to irrigate lawns and gardens, general household water usage or, ideally, both. This is simply done by setting up water tanks at your home or property to catch rain as it falls. These tanks may be connected to your home's gutters so water can collect and funnel in that way, or they can be freestanding and open to collect water every time you get a shower of rain.
In countries such as Australia, it is now mandatory for all new home builds to have a water tank for collecting rainwater. This is to help ease the burden of mains water supply, especially during summer months and long drought seasons brought on by the El Niño effect in which above-average temperatures along with limited rainfall takes a toll on water resources.
Benefits of rain harvesting
Did you know that 35% of the average home's water usage is through flushing the toilet? That equates to almost 28,000 gallons of water! Water is a valuable resource we all use daily. Collecting rainwater is a sustainable, renewable water source that will lower your ecological footprint and save you money.
In many urban areas storm runoff is no longer absorbed by the soil or vegetation. Up to 90% will run off hard surfaces such as roads, roofs, footpaths and concrete parking lots. It runs down into storm water drains and then flushes back out into nearby waterways. This sheer volume can erode away creek banks, damage existing water habitats and filter the water away from areas that could use this resource.
Water infrastructure impacts the environment through its greenhouse emissions, the energy it consumes and possible pollutants it can generate. Through rainwater harvesting, this reduces the need for such infrastructures to be built and maintained.
Groundwater supplies across the globe are in decline. As we drill and tap into this limited resource it causes untold strain on the environment and presents a real concern for long term sustainability. Declining groundwater can reduce the volume of water in lakes and streams, affect soil quality, increase costs to agricultural users and dropping levels affects the water quality of what is left. By collecting your water you minimise the need to deplete this resource even further and allow it to refill through the natural absorption of rain.
Collecting rainwater is virtually free. Once you've outplayed the initial cost to collect, your water becomes a free resource-saving you money. It will reduce your annual water bills (by up to 50%) and ease the burden on local water infrastructure. Greater implementation of rain harvesting within your local area can reduce the long-term water development needs of a community. The cost to the community to produce treated water can cause much expense every year. When you factor in the cost and maintenance of dams, pipes, treatment plants, it has a significant financial impact which the rate-payers in the community ultimately bear the burden of this cost in rate increases. Therefore, widespread rainwater harvesting in the community not only reduces water demand but lowers the cost of supply.
Collecting rain requires design, build and installation which means it creates sustainable jobs boosting economical futures. Some believe that the rainwater harvesting industry could become a leading employer in the green infrastructure movement.
Individual property water collection can also be used as a resource in times of wildfires to assist firefighting crews with an immediate water source which could potentially save homes and properties in times of an emergency.
What do I need to collect rainwater?
Rainwater harvesting can be as simple as a large barrel left out to catch the rain through to water tank systems for your home or you could install a collection system. Here is what you will need to set up a water tank to collect rainwater.
Conveyance System - gutters and downpipes that channel the water collected from hard surfaces into a storage tank. For homes, the most common method is collecting water from roofing into gutters and down into a storage tank.
Diverters & Filters - these are designed to keep leaf matter and other debris out of your water storage tank. Tank openings should have a mesh to catch debris and be cleaned out regularly to ensure water filters through. It is also recommended that gutters are cleaned out every year (usually after fall/winter seasons) so there are no additional blockages stopping water from being collected.
Storage Tank - where the water is collected and stored. The size will depend on the space available and how much you want to collect. These are made from either steel or polycarbonate material. They can be installed above ground or underground if space is an issue. These can hold from a few hundred gallons up to 100,000 gallons of water.
Distribution system - pump and pipes to get the stored water out of the tank and to the parts of the home you want access to this water. This could be to a garden water supply or internal water supplies like laundry or bathrooms. There are two types of pumps; externally mounted pumps, which are usually near the water tank. The other is submerged pumps which sit inside the water tank.
You will need to choose a suitable location for your water tank installation. It will need to be near drain pipes to help fill the tank. Beset on the flat level ground of either crusher dust or a concrete slab and have enough room for a pump to be connected to, all the pipework and access to the ball lock value in at the bottom for drainage. Some people will prefer to have these at the side of the house or the back, so it is not visible from passing traffic and detract from the front of the house aesthetic. Remember you may sell your home one day and no one wants to see a great big water tank front and center!
As local water supplies are stretched and the planet's reserves are depleting at rapid rates, the benefits of collecting rainwater are enormous to not only the community but to the planet as a whole. It reduces the negative effects on the environment from storm runoff and reduces groundwater depletion.
As a community, we are becoming more aware of water conservation and protecting this precious resource we all need to survive. As individuals, we can do our part by harvesting rainwater for our own supply. To get started, contact the team at Grassroots Greenhouses. We have a wide selection of water harvesting products to suit any home and any budget. Call today at 833-577-GROW.