What is Rainwater Harvesting?
Rainwater harvesting is a process of collecting and storing rainwater to use the water in various applications. You can use any container to collect rainwater, and you will be surprised that it can provide you with a number of benefits. You can use harvested rainwater to wash your car, water your plants or livestock, bathe the dog, and even create drinking water.
Rainwater Harvesting Systems
The most basic and simplest rainwater harvesting method consists of any large container or containers. Utilizing a lid helps to prevent evaporation of the water stored while, at the same time, preventing a breeding place for mosquitoes.
Since reusing rainwater has been growing in popularity, rainwater home harvesting systems are available to make the process of accumulating rainwater more effective and efficient. A simple rainwater harvesting system consists of a catchment area like the roof, a conveyance system like home gutters and leaders where rain will pass, and holding vessels like cisterns to collect the water.
More complex systems may also include a roof-wash system utilizing the initial rainfall to only clean and prepare the roof, a delivery system to pump the water, and a treatment system to purify the rainwater. Rainwater harvesting systems can be engineered in the construction of a new building or added on to an already existing structure.
But why would you bother with this?
Water has become a precious commodity. Any means of water conservation can help in reducing the cost of your water utility bills. If you use harvested rainwater for some of your water needs at home, your needs as well as your spending with your water utility company will be lowered.
In addition to reducing water consumption from the local municipal system, rainwater harvesting also lowers the demand on watersheds outside a particular area. It also reduces the unnecessary cost of water treatment plants filtering then transporting water back to your home just to be used to water your garden or wash your car.
The government offers multiple tax credits and incentives on national, state, city and county levels. On the state-level, tax credits exist in Arizona and Texas, for example, for those who implement rainwater harvesting systems. Other states, like Ohio, give incentives to residents who utilize rain barrels and rainwater storage tanks.
While you may benefit economically, the environment also benefits greatly with the implementation of rainwater harvesting. Water resources are declining. And the problems associated with urban and stormwater runoff and sewer overflows are reduced with that much less water contributing to the problem.
The Bigger Picture
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making efforts to promote water conservation and assist with the issues of our water supply. In fact, in Southern California, the EPA has awarded a grant for the development of an innovative rainwater harvesting systems. This design will allow harvested rainwater to supplement local water supplies in an answer to the local water supply shortage problem.
One supplier of rain harvesting systems states that a rainwater harvesting system costs around $600- $700 for a complete kit with screens, filter, diverter and cistern. Based on the simplicity of the system, the average do it yourselfer could have one installed in a day. Rainwater harvesting will definitely assist water conservation and water efficiency by reusing water that would normally drain away. So, get those rain barrels and start harvesting rainwater.
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