Rainwater collection is becoming increasingly popular, driven by centralized water and sewer systems unable to meet demands, incentive programs offering rebates (much like solar), water quality, availability, and cost increases from our municipal sources.
Decentralized water systems design and implementation need to be regulated for public safety. ARCSA (American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association) has helped to write code, along with ASPE (American Society of Plumbing Engineers) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to insure that strict guidelines are met.
RainBank Rainwater Collection Systems recommends that when hiring a designer or contractor for your rainwater harvesting system, ask if they are an ARCSA accredited or certified professional. Members have been trained and are required to have continuing education in order to provide a SAFE source of water. Be sure the designer has experience in the field of water systems and that your contractor has knowledge and experience in installation.
A well designed and installed potable system will provide your household with quality, safe, and reliable water for years to come. Non potable systems also need to be designed with use in mind. Proper sizing and components will be essential in the system’s performance.
The City of Seattle, through Seattle Public Utilities, has been offering incentives in the way of rebates for rainwater collection since 2010. The Rain Wise program promotes rain gardens and cistern use for landscaping to offset storm water runoff. While not available in all areas of Seattle, it is growing in popularity in the Ballard and other areas.This is the first incentive program for rainwater harvesting in Seattle with hopes of expanding its area. Diverting rainwater from the roof to a rain garden or cisterns for irrigation helps reduce demand on the city’s sewer system, which finds itself increasingly overwhelmed, resulting in sewage spills in the Puget Sound. Read more from Sustainable Seattle.
Other cities in the US are finding this to be a good solution to the increasing demands on their sewer systems and water supplies as well. With the droughts that are being experienced in Texas, the city of San Marcos is offering rebates to homeowners up to $5,000 for installing rainwater catchment systems and commercial buildings up to $2,000.
As demands increase on our centralized water and sewage systems, rainwater collection incentives will become more popular throughout Seattle and other cities in the US.
The price range of rainwater collection is as wide as there are different designs. A rainwater collection system can be as simple and as inexpensive as a rain barrel with a single downspout collecting from a small amount of roof. Generally a homeowner can purchase and install the components for this type of introductory system. Small irrigation needs are the key here. Water usage can easily exceed storage.
For larger usage needs, more storage will be required to get through the “dry season”. Based on 3 months of dry and your water consumption requirements, this will help determine total storage needed. Above ground poly tanks are the most economical, with pricing starting around $.55 cents per gallon stored.
Having a system with multiple uses will help the system to be used more efficiently. If you want to irrigate, why not use the water that would normally overflow during the rainy season to supplement household usage such as toilet flushing and laundry facility? You have the water available in the summer for irrigating and during the rainy season, you’re getting use and reducing your water and septic bill. This type of design and use will help reduce the cost of your system by supplementing city water use.
Or, you may choose to have your rainwater collection system be your primary water for whole house including potable. The price depends on type of storage, style of storage, and complexity of design. But, with larger systems you get more “bang for your buck” per gallon stored.
You can make rainwater collection affordable with the right design.