The wonders of rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting is relatively new but signs are already showing that it could prove invaluable both in the UK and in dry countries. It’s not a new science – historians can show that as early as the third century BC, farming communities in Pakistan and India used rainwater harvesting for irrigation.
Collecting rainwater isn’t a new process, but collecting it and guiding it for a specific use is. If not collected, rainwater falls onto surfaces and seeps into the drainage system or is lost through evaporation and transpiration. By capturing the water direct from rainfall or roof gutters, it can be directed into storage tanks for further use.
Although it seems it never stops raining in the UK, we are still putting a strain on our water resources and with every year of population increase, climate change and lifestyle demands, this pressure increases. Through education and information we are learning that water is precious and we shouldn’t waste a drop. With rainwater harvesting we can all do our bit to uphold the three elements of sustainability: reduce, recycle and reuse.
A capacious tank is fitted to the stormwater drain from your roof, and the rainfall water is filtered into it to remove leaves and debris. From there, it can be transferred into underground storage containers or standing tanks. These systems are not just suitable for residential buildings, they are also being widely used in schools, hospitals, offices and other commercial buildings. Once stored, the water can be used for a variety of uses such as:-
- Toilet flushing
- Garden watering
- Clothes washing
- Garden ponds
- Wall washing
- Exterior cleaning
- The property increases in value hugely from eco ratings. With a rainwater harvesting system, the water usage rating will contribute advantageous eco points.
- Rainwater is better for your garden as it has a balanced pH, is free of chemicals such as chlorine and does not produce limescale.
- Animals prefer the taste of rainwater, as it has no chemicals.
- Less washing powder is needed with soft rainwater as it is with soft water.
Utilising rainwater can have as equally a significant impact on the household water meter bill as it can the environment. By capturing and using rainwater directly, the pressure put on water dams can be alleviated, as can the pressure put on the water mains supply. This reduction in mains water usage leaves more water in rivers, lakes and aquifers to benefit local ecosystems.
To fully utilise the advantages of rainwater harvesting, there is more research being done to utilise rainwater systems for agricultural applications. In countries where water is sparse and crops suffer, rainwater harvesting is seen as a cheap, reliable and sustainable source of water for irrigation. Even in periods of low rainfall with harvesting, enough water is collected and stored for crops to flourish.
Watercache are a company that have been providing rainwater harvesting solutions in the US for many years, and through their experiences, they conclude:
“We believe that rainwater harvesting systems are the next frontier in water conservation gains for urban households”
So, while we all try and reduce our water footprint, why not look to the heavens above (quite literally) to capture, and use rainwater. You know it makes sense.
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