As fresh water dwindles, you can take steps to save natural resources.
From a global perspective, fresh water is becoming an increasingly precious resource. By some estimates, as many as 3.4 billion people around the world will lack adequate and safe fresh water.
It is still easy to take water’s availability for granted here in the United States. However, increasing population, corruption of water by industrial and agricultural activity, steadily receding sources and climate changes conspire to reduce water availability and increase water cost. As a result, “water politics” have come closer to the forefront of public consciousness as people see their water bills rise to a significant household expense, while cities and towns manage aging distribution piping, and utilities seek out water supplies that are increasingly harder to reach.
The challenges related to water conservation and efficiency have become a significant factor in plumbing system design going back to the 1990s when low-consumption fixtures became mandated by law. Since then, further incentives for water use reduction have been established through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building certification system. Beyond low-consumption fixture prerequisites for LEED certification, water use reduction credits toward certification are commonly achieved through the collection of rainwater as an alternative source of fresh water.
Rainwater harvesting is a method of collecting rainwater from the roofs of buildings or other catchment surfaces and sending it to storage for future use. Although rainwater is essentially purified water from the sky (i.e., condensed water vapor), when it hits the catchment surface and flows into drainage pipes, certain contaminants will be carried along. Reducing these contaminants is the key to maintaining good water quality for its use as irrigation water, fixture flushing water and, in some cases, drinking water for homes.
In any rainwater harvesting application, it has been long understood that the quality of the water stored for re-use starts with the treatment of rainwater before it’s collected in the cistern. Other necessary steps and techniques in the collection and storage process also are important. The manner in which rainwater shedding from a catchment surface is handled is a critical first step in managing stored water quality, while other methods in handling the water further ensure good quality. The central factor in any efficient and quality system is the health of the water in the cistern.