Would you like to save some money on your water bill? Harvesting rainwater will help you conserve both water and money. This water is non-potable but is useful for watering your lawn, landscape, or garden, toilet flushing, or even connecting a washing machine to it for year-round water. Rainwater harvesting uses inexpensive and simple technology and promotes self-sufficiency.
Rain can be harvested from roof tops, terraces, courtyards, paved or unpaved open ground, and other hard surfaces. Before reaching some sort of storage tank, which may be small like a barrel or large like a cistern installed above or below ground, the rain should be allowed to go through a filtering mechanism to prevent or reduce debris and dust from collection. Filtering systems can involve screens, fine aggregate, charcoal, and rubble, and they must be occasionally maintained. Later, when needed, the water is drawn from the tank with buckets, taps, or pumps. Multiple tanks can be set up nearby and rotated to store more water for periods when there is no rain for a while.
When you collect rain, you are providing society with some benefits:
- You keep relatively clean water from combined sewer systems
- Reduce energy and chemicals needed for treating combined sewer water
- Reducing the energy needed to transport water
- Reducing the amount of potable water that was destined for non-potable use
You may have to check with your city about catching rain. While rain does fall on all of us, it is directed through city infrastructure and there is the hurdle of water rights and ownership. In San Francisco, CA, if you are installing a rain barrel to a downspout disconnected from a combined sewer system – that is, a system that collects stormwater and sanitary sewage in a single pipe – then you don’t need a permit. Cisterns and tanks for irrigation and flushing toilets will need both a plumbing and a building permit. Contact your city’s building/building inspection department for more information.
Of note is Kitty’s Place, an addition New Avenue built. Around the house are rain water catchment barrels. Check out the client page for more background and pictures.
Be sure to also check out the featured Design Book this week on Rainwater Harvesting and save some ideas to your own Design Book!