Like our old friend Benjamin Franklin said, “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” One of our most precious resources, imagine a world without water? As many of us look towards more ways to tread lightly and live gently on our planet, rainwater harvesting is gaining traction in more ways than one.
In this post, we take a closer look at everything you need to know about harvesting rainwater. We’ll uncover what harvesting rainwater entails, the uses of rainwater harvesting, the pros and cons, and what the future of rain harvesting looks like.
What is Rainwater Harvesting?
Simply put, rainwater harvesting is a process of collecting, storing, and repurposing rainwater that would otherwise fall back onto the ground or drain away. The rainwater is then used both inside and outside the home, instead of relying on the area’s municipal supply. This results in reducing overall water consumption and water waste. Typically these capture tanks or barrels are placed on the roofs or sides of buildings under a specialized gutter to catch the falling rainwater.
While regular maintenance is required, simple collection systems can be constructed that most people can easily build and maintain. Rainwater harvesting and storage can be incorporated in rural and urban areas and provide many benefits to individuals, communities, and the environment. The best part? Rainwater harvesting is a powerful technique to green your home and to lessen your environmental footprint.
Uses of Rainwater Harvesting
Unlike municipal water, rainwater is valued for its purity and softness. Did you know it has a nearly neutral pH and is free from disinfection by-products, salts, minerals, and other natural and man-made contaminants? Gardens and lawn thrive under irrigation with harvested rainwater. Plus, appliances last longer when free from the corrosive or scale effects of hard tap water.
You can essentially use rainwater anywhere you use tap water. Here are some ideas for specific uses of rainwater:
- To water your lawn and garden (you can also connect your rainwater collection system to an irrigation/sprinkler system)
- Water indoor plants
- Wash your vehicles
- Wash your pets
- Refill your fountains and fish ponds
- Refill your swimming pool
- Replace the use of tap water with rainwater to wash your driveways, sidewalks, and windows
- Use it for all indoor non-potable fixtures (toilets, dishwasher, and clothes washer)
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5 Advantages of Rainwater Harvesting
Below, we take a closer look at the main advantages of rainwater harvesting:
Reduces Flooding and Erosion
Harvesting rainwater can help the environment in several ways. For starters, it can reduce erosion around downspouts and in gardens. It can also control stormwater runoff. Rainwater doesn’t produce scale and corrosion as hard water does. The collection of rainwater may reduce flooding in certain areas as well.
Reduces Water Bills
Rainwater harvesting will help individuals save on their water bills and cut costs for entire communities. The cost to supply mains and overall water services can be substantially reduced when many people in one community use rainwater. Having a source of water can also reduce dependence on municipal sources in case the water becomes contaminated. Rainwater can be used as the primary source of water or as a backup source when needed.
Reduces Demand on Ground Water
Sources of groundwater are increasingly being strained in many areas throughout the world. Digging deeper wells is not only expensive but can cause environmental damage, such as collapsing the soil where the water used to be. It only makes sense to use sources of rainwater whenever possible. Harvested rainwater can be stored and then used during times of drought and when the groundwater supplies have been depleted.
Can Be Used for Non-drinking Purposes
The majority of the water we need is used for non-drinking. Everything from washing clothes and dishes to bathing and flushing toilets requires large amounts of water. Rainwater can be used for all of these things. Rainwater is soft and can lessen the need for detergents when washing clothes and dishes. Rainwater can also be used for washing vehicles, bathing pets, and nearly all cleaning that uses water.
Can Improve Plant Growth
Rainwater harvesting can also be used to improve plants and gardens. Using harvested water can flush the salt buildup from plants and soil. Harvested rainwater is generally free from several types of pollutants and man-made contaminants. Rain is also free from chlorination. Using clean and healthy rainwater for plants and trees can save money on overall property maintenance and landscaping needs.
5 Disadvantages of Rainwater Harvesting
Now that we’ve had a look at the advantages, let’s explore some common disadvantages:
Of course, rainfall is hard to predict, and throughout the year (depending on where you are), you may experience little or no rainfall. This means it’s not recommended to rely solely on rainwater alone for all your water needs.
Initial High Cost
Depending on the system’s size and the technology level, installing a rainwater harvesting system can be pretty pricey. Some systems cost anything between $200 to $2000. However, you will regain this cost in water bill savings over a few years.
In order to keep things working optimally, rainwater harvesting systems require regular maintenance and upkeep. Plus, they can be prone to things like rodents, algae growth, and insects.
The barrels or tanks can only hold so much water. So, during a very heavy downpour or storm, and once the catchment is full, the system may not be able to hold all the rainwater. The excess rainwater overflows and then ends up going into drains and rivers anyway.
Certain Roof Types May Seep Chemicals or Other Substances
Certain types of roofs may leach chemicals, insects, dirt, or animal droppings into the water. These substances can then harm plants or your lawn if you are using the harvested water to water your garden. It’s important to take this into consideration when installing a rainwater harvesting system.
Is Rainwater Harvesting the Future?
As the world’s population continues to swell and there is more and more demand on the earth’s resources, it’s predicted that rainwater harvesting will only gain more and more momentum throughout the US and the rest of the globe. With so many benefits and positive effects on the planet, what’s not to love? To recap, here are some significant benefits of rainwater harvesting on the earth:
- Collectively, rainwater can significantly impact water supply and has been shown to reduce municipal water demand enough that large new public water sourcing projects become unnecessary.
- In urban areas, up to 90% of water runs off because of all the hard surfaces like roads, parking lots, and roofs. In nature, up to 90% soaks into the ground. Rainwater systems counteract stormwater runoff and thereby reduce flooding, erosion, and groundwater contamination.
- Municipal water treatment and pumping form a high percentage of municipal energy consumption. Rainwater systems reduce this energy usage.
Contact Accurate Leak and Line Today
For more information on how to efficiently harvest rainwater, contact the pros at Accurate Leak and Line. If you need help installing a rainwater harvesting system, we can also assist. To learn more about harvesting rainwater, click here.
Our skilled team of Texas Master Plumbers specializes in sub slab leak testing and diagnosis at Accurate Leak and Line. By utilizing a combination of hydrostatic pressure testing, video camera inspection, and leak isolation testing, we can accurately identify underground plumbing problems such as failing copper or galvanized water pipes. For all your plumbing needs, call the professionals at Accurate Leak and Line today.