All posts by Ken Blair

A rainwater collection systems designer and consultant, Ken has designed and installed residential and commercial systems, primarily in the northwest United States for more than 10 years and, in 2014, began consulting and managing builds in other states. Ken is an accredited ARCSA Professional Designer / Installer and Life Member, the Northwest Regional ARCSA representative and advisor to its education committee and is available to speak about Rainwater Collection Systems design and builds. Ken is a United States Navy veteran, having served on active duty during the Vietnam War era. He attained the rate of E-4 Machinist Mate. A career entrepreneur, Ken created a new business focus with a commercial dive company in Hawaii in the mid 1980′s to respond to and clean up oil spills, oil spill equipment training, service and maintenance for the oil co-op service industry. Ken is passionate about having a positive impact on the environment and is also a founding director of BANK-ON-RAIN (2011-2014), whose mission is to create grassroots solutions for rainwater collection for consumption and agriculture in developing areas of the planet.

7 Misconceptions About Rainwater Collection

Trying to navigate the internet for information about rainwater collection can produce confusing results. You might find misleading or false information – or even outdated information, since this industry has changed considerably over the past few years as rainwater harvesting moves from niche to mainstream. Here is a list of 7 misconceptions about rainwater collection:

  1. MISCONCEPTION: Rainwater systems are expensive and hard to maintain.

Depending on the design, a potable rainwater system can be approximately the same cost as a well. Maintenance of a well-designed system requires very little maintenance. Hire only those who have experience in designing and installing RWC systems to ensure a system that operates properly.

  1. MISCONCEPTION: It is illegal to collect rainwater for usage.

Many states have revisited water rights laws and have or are passing legislation concerning RWC.

New York, Virginia, Florida, Rhode Island, North Carolina, US Virgin Islands, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, Oregon and Washington have all passed some type of legislation legalizing rainwater collection. In many, it is up to the county whether collection for potable use is allowed. Check with your county building department.

  1. MISCONCEPTION: Rainwater collection is new idea.

Rainwater collection dates back as far as 2600 BC in India. Many cultures have harvested rain for usage since then.

  1. MISCONCEPTION: Rainwater is dirty and should not be used for potable demand.

Rainwater is relatively clean compared to surface water. It has not come into contact with contaminants before storage other than the roof. Proper design and installation of storage, conveyance, filtration and disinfection results in exceptional water quality.

  1. MISCONCEPTION: Aquifers and streams will not be recharged if rainwater collection is allowed.

Rooftop collection and use enhances recharge of aquifers and streams due to infiltration. Rather than evaporating, the collected rainwater is used and then infiltrated into the ground through the septic system, and as a result, percolating back down into the aquifer or in stream for future use.

  1. MISCONCEPTION: Water is infinite, so what’s the big deal?

The natural cycle of water is constantly changing from ocean to atmosphere, to rivers, lakes and aquifers. It is best explained by an article from Our Blue Planet at Infinite Water

  1. MISCONCEPTION: Rainwater collection can’t possibly provide enough water for my usage.

For every 1,000 sq. ft. of collection area, per inch of rain, 623 gallons are available for collection. A 2,000 sq. ft. home can collect over 44,000 gallons annually.

To learn more about rainwater collection, visit www.arcsa.org

This article was originally published under the title:  Myths of Rainwater Collection

Create Your Own Water Supply

As we’ve written many times over the years, you can create your own water supply, not just for drinking, but also for laundry, toilet and irrigation in a commercial and residential environment, depending on where your home or business is located.

Here’s an article we shared in June 2014, about how rainwater collection is a reliable water supply alternative to city or well water.

“Below are some notable findings on rainwater collection compiled by ARCSA from the 2013 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Water Companies:”  read more

Quality of Harvested Rainwater

Whether your rainwater harvesting system is for non-potable or potable use, there are key factors that dictate the quality of that collected water and the success of your system.  Collection surfaces should be compatible with intended usage.  While an asphalt shingle roof may lend itself for collection of a non-potable demand, a baked enamel, metal roof would be preferred for potable use.

Rainwater that has been collected in a manner that reduces debris and contamination will store better than that which has not. Bacterial growth can be kept to a minimum by prescreening and aerating rainwater entering storage. Diffusing, or calming water entering storage will reduce disturbance of any sediment, allowing microorganisms to do their job by eating bacteria. All inlets and outlets of cistern(s) should be screened and protected from insects and vermin entering the storage tank.  Mid-level in the water column is the cleanest source of water to be delivered to the pressure pump and can be achieved with a floating/screened suction.

Properly designed and installed conveyance and storage should require little maintenance, but should be looked after by the purveyor. Gutter system and screens should be inspected and cleaned as needed, especially during pollen season. Debris in the gutter should not be allowed to enter the conveyance lines. Periodic inspections will reduce the buildup of unwanted debris that may cause odor or discoloration of your stored water.

By conveying and storing your harvested rainwater properly, your pressurizing and filtration system will operate to its greatest potential, producing quality domestic water for both non-potable and potable demands.