7,200 gallons of collected rainwater for household usage has no visual impact for this newly constructed Bellevue home. The homeowner wanted to have a rainwater catchment system to provide water for the toilet and laundry facility, but he did not want large, above ground water tanks interfering with the landscaping of his backyard.
The solution: excavating the old cement swimming pool and placing four 1800 gallon poly water tanks in its place, creating an underground rainwater collection system. All the tanks are connected with a manifold for equalization and supply a pressure tank and filtration in the mechanical room for usage. Solenoid valves provide automatic switching from rainwater to city water if the tanks should run low, but will switch back to rainwater when the tanks receive more water from the roof.
Gutter screens were installed, along with a vortex filter, which will eliminate debris from entering the storage tanks. In the mechanical room, a sediment filter will remove fine sediment, followed by a carbon filter to eliminate color and odor.
With auto switching, the homeowner will never know the difference (other than his reduced water bill) and he finds the underground rainwater collection system aesthetically appealing.
What type of weather pattern can we expect in the Seattle area this winter?
According to the latest NOAA forecast, “For more than a year now we have been experiencing a ‘La Nada’ weather pattern, with ‘El Niño’ to develop toward the end of the year.” Warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean will trend toward a warm and dry fall and winter across the Pacific Northwest while sending the jet stream farther to the South bringing California much needed wetter weather. This means less snow pack and less lowland rain for the Seattle area.
However the NOAA stats suggest we are not in the El Niño pattern yet, with .46″ of rainfall this last Saturday and a weekly total of 2.18″ this past week. A monthly total so far of 2.90″ is less than the average monthly total for October of 3.24″.
A 2,000 sq ft home in Seattle could have collected 3,613.4 gallons of water from that 2.90″. With an average rainfall of 36″ that same home could collect almost 45,000 gallons. With approximately 12,000 gallons of storage, that home would have a budget of 3,750 gallon average monthly use and enough water stored to supply their summer demand.
Seattle is one of the best suited areas for rainwater catchment regardless of climatic weather patterns we face.
Do you think contaminated water only exists in developing countries?
The other day, there was a Boil Your Water Advisory in Washington State. According to KIRO News, “About 800 residents in Wauna on the Key Peninsula were affected when E. coli was detected in their water supply.” The water system in Wauna is a community well system. The contamination was found during a routine monthly test, but the source of the contamination has yet to be determined.
E. coli has been recently detected in the Mount Baker area. The water system serves about 220 homes. One child died and 2 others got sick in Lincoln County, Oregon last week. In addition, Mercer Island City water system had a suspected outbreak as well. Local restaurants were affected and lost profits due to the scare. Earlier this year dead birds were found in a Portland city reservoir.
There have been 26 contaminations this year – and 25 last year as well. These boil alerts are becoming increasingly more common throughout our country.
Why is this happening? Aging infrastructure can partly be attributed to the cause. With increased population density and larger demands on our centralized water and sewer districts, rainwater collection and decentralized water systems may be the better answer for Seattle. A small urban rainwater collection system for residential use is easy to maintain and has less potential of contamination if installed and properly maintained.