Turkish Bath Becomes Rainwater Collection Cistern

mosaic-200864_640With a little bit of creative thought, Tacoma, WA set out on a path of  green capability while reclaiming a downtown area that had become degraded and mostly abandoned – partly using a Turkish bath.

In an article from Environmental Protection Online, we learn how the city of Tacoma repurposed  Park Plaza South. During the reconstruction, an old Turkish Bath was uncovered. Cleverly, the designers decided to use the old bath as a rainwater collection cistern, which would collect water to be used for irrigation and toilet flushing.

“Other sustainable features at Pacific Plaza include 36 percent of the building materials being recycled, from structural steel and panel metal sidings to wood and windows. All of the products used met LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) thresholds for low-emitting materials, while interior materials such as carpet, flooring, paint, and composite woods had low levels of volatile organic compounds.

These features, along with the rainwater collection system, earned the building a NAIOP Sustainable Development Award and LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. While the Platinum certification was the city’s first, there now are more than 25 local businesses, schools, or housing complexes that are silver or better LEED-Certified in Tacoma, with many more in the works.”

Rainwater Collection in Washington State: Where to Begin?

gutter-484684_640We want to keep our families safe, but when we read stories about sustainability, water conservation, saving the environment, aging infrastructure, even poisoned public water systems – how on earth are we supposed to know where to begin when it comes to rainwater collection?

Here are some tips that can help you decide where to begin. We originally discussed this in a post from 2014:

Whether you are designing your own rainwater catchment system or having one designed by a professional, success of your rainwater catchment system design is dependent on some key factors.

What do I want to accomplish with my design of a rainwater catchment system?

Irrigation, toilet and or laundry facility, supplementary to well water or city water, whole house usage, and sole source are the main purpose of designs.

How much rainwater can I collect from my roof? Will it be enough to supply my needs?

One inch of rainfall per 1,000 square feet of roof will yield approximately 623 gallons of water. Evaporation, wind, and spillage account for 15 – 20 % of loss. A 2,000 square foot roof with 36″ of annual rainfall may yield 44,856 gallons. With an efficiency of 85%, that equals 38,128 gallons.

One inch of rain is needed for the healthy growth of plants. This equates to .623 gallons per week for 1 square foot of planting, which can add up rather fast, so keeping your irrigation needs small and giving consideration to drought tolerant plants is recommended.

Toilet and laundry facilities account for 49% of household usage. Designing and building a system for this purpose alone can cut your water and sewer bill in half. New construction is the best time to implement this type of system however, retrofitting plumbing in an existing home can be accomplished.

Rainwater Catchment System Key FactorsIf the collection area is small or available space for storage is restricted, a supplementary system can be achieved with “slim line” style of cisterns or buried tanks. A small roof can still be effective in collection if used for a supplementary source to well water or city water.

Whole house usage, or potable water, can eliminate dependency on city water or well water, where you can still have city or well water as a back up during dry times. With the advanced filtration and UV disinfection offered today, safe, reliable drinking water for whole house usage will exceed the quality of most well and city water.

Now that you are considering what usage of collected rainfall would best suit your needs, we will discuss sizing, configuration, implementation, and maintenance of a designed rainwater catchment system in upcoming posts.

When you are ready to begin, RainBank will come to your site, discuss your needs and prepare a feasibility study – customized to your usage. There is a fee for this, which would be discounted from the cost when you contract with us to design or build your system. Use the form below to request a quote.

Considerations for Underground Water Storage Tanks

Xerxes underground tanksRainBank is experiencing increased interest in underground storage for our Seattle customers, requiring special considerations for underground water storage tanks.

Aesthetics and available space are the most common reasons from these customers. Many are building larger homes on small lots that once had a 1,200 square foot home with a front and back yard. New construction is trending towards a larger footprint, leaving less room for water storage tanks. Slimline tanks allow for less visual impact, but are restrictive on volume. Other residents are remodeling older existing homes that still have yard space available – and are looking for greater amounts of storage.  Below grade storage can be the answer, leaving a yard area that can accept landscaping right over the top of the water tanks.

Here are some things to consider with underground storage.

  • First and foremost – costs. Below grade storage will require excavation and. most likely, exporting much of that soil, which would have to be loaded and trucked off site.
  • Drainage needs to taken in account, with the new City of Seattle stormwater rules preferring infiltration for overflow. Where infiltration is not feasible, connection to the city storm system can be implemented for overflow as long as caution is taken to prevent sewer gases  or back flow from entering the tank.
  • Water tanks need to be properly vented and have a riser to access the tank for periodic cleaning and pump service. The installer must be sure that plumbing will not be compromised with slight settling or shifting of the tank.
  • Below grade tanks tend to be more expensive to meet engineering requirements of underground tanks, and once installed, are considered a confined space and caution must be taken if access is necessary. 

Underground-Tank-Construction3-1038x576For those who understand the considerations of underground storage, you have the luxury of landscaping that is free of visual impact and have different available options in tank sizes, styles, and materials. Tanks can be single or multiple, plastic or fiberglass. Cement tanks can be used for non potable use or lined with a NSF certificate for drinking water.