Has the Time for Water Harvesting Arrived?

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After last summer, homeowners, farmers and gardeners may be wondering what kind of weather conditions we can expect during the upcoming growing season.

Those who have experienced water shortages might be getting more serious about the ancient process of collecting and storing rainwater for later use. It is a process whose time may well have come. Countries including the UK and Australia believe in it so strongly that they are beginning to impose rain collection legislation while in Europe and Japan, sewage water and rain collection are mixed and recycled through toilets.

Most conscientious homeowners already have incorporated water conservation features into their homes, with low-flush toilets and slower taps and shower heads and those efforts are paying off, as average residential water consumption per person fell by 27% from 1991 to 2011. Most of the residential use, roughly 63%, happens outside the home on gardens and washing cars.

The importance of this critical resource is becoming more apparent and as Millbrook residents can attest, the cost of managing water services is expensive. Municipalities in some jurisdictions are now charging a stormwater fee based on rainwater runoff on residential and commercial properties to offset the expenses of stormwater management processes and flood prevention initiatives. These charges are in addition to those for water usage. Rural residents drawing from private wells should not be too complacent in the belief they will remain exempt from these expenses. In some jurisdictions governments are discussing the idea of placing gps sensors on private wells in order to monitor and ultimately tax private water use.

There are many simple as well as sophisticated options for harvesting rainwater. Before deciding how to harvest rain, it is important to assess the potential volume that may be available. To calculate the amount of water that could be generated at a specific location, a rule of thumb is that one inch of rain on 1,000 square feet of roof area can generate 2,270 litres of water. This means that the average size barn can generate up to 500,000 litres of water per year.

Rainwater harvesting systems can be as simple as a rain barrel or a series of them, or permanent in ground storage tanks complete with roof catchments, a conveyance network, storage tanks, a pump, and fixtures where rainwater will be utilized. The most sophisticated systems also incorporate treatment technologies to improve the quality of rainwater before and/or after storage, and include provisions for periods of insufficient rainfall (a water make-up supply) and times of excessive rainfall (overflow provisions).

Greg Bunker of Kawartha Conservation and Denis Orendt, Rainwater System Designer/Installer provided a Rainwater Harvesting Workshop in Blackstock this week to educate the public on the benefits and technology of rainwater collection, which include reducing storm water run-off, erosion and flooding as well as protecting rivers, streams and lakes..

According to Bunker, “Whether people want to be able to water their lawns or gardens, reduce their municipal water consumption or conserve their own well water supply, water harvesting is a great option for saving money and protecting the environment.”

To learn more about the benefits and options for rainwater harvesting, contact Kawartha Conservation at gbunker@kawarthaconservation.com. or Denis Orendt at rssystemsoninc@outlook.com. KG

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