Category Archives: Environment

California Water Conservation Advised

While the California drought may have significantly improved with recent heavy rain and snowfall, it would be a stretch to declare it over. A series of Pacific rain filled storms have increased the storage in reservoirs, lakes and snowpack, but the need for continued conservation is still advised. Large, infrequent rain events do little for long term supply demands. A good deal of the event simply equates to stormwater with little effect on the aquifers. According to Richard Tinker with NOAA Climate Center, “Groundwater levels have not responded as one might expect and remain critically low… water supply is dependent on groundwater.”  Without replenishment from more frequent rainfall, reservoir levels will once again decrease. By lessening the demand from public water supplies, recoveries can retain their water for longer periods or until the next large rainstorm.

California has embraced rainwater collection since early February 2013. As of September 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed several new bills into law that impact California water supplies, including cutting down on excessive water use and making the most of stormwater. Now is the time for California to implement additional legislation allowing expansion of rainwater collection with incentive programs and rebates. With increasing population and its increased demands on water supplies, Californians will witness water shortages again.  Richard Santos, director of Santa Clara Valley Water District sums up the need of conservation as “Water conservation is a way of life. It’s not going to change. We’re an arid region for the rest of our lives. History will repeat itself. Like all good people, we put money in the bank for those rainy days that don’t come.”

The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) has a growing presence in California with scheduled Rainwater Catchment Workshops. According to ARCSA, “With the ongoing water crisis in California, this workshop will focus on the central and southern California coast and inland communities. Residents of California are encouraged to attend to learn to capture stormwater, and rainwater while creating additional “reservoirs” to store water for future beneficial uses. You can’t use it if you don’t store it!”

Photo Credit: SF Gate – Photo: Top, Frances Low/DWR. Bottom, Walt Warneke

Rainwater Collection Meets Seattle Code & Saves Money

The new Seattle 2016 Stormwater and Drainage code is prompting many architects to include detention/infiltration systems into their residential designs to mitigate unwanted roof runoff. This typically incorporates roof runoff to be collected temporarily, in above ground storage, to be slowly released into an infiltration system on site. This can be a series of infiltration ditches or some type of rain garden. During the dry season, the stored water can be used for irrigation. However, a problem with this theory is that storage for this type of system is usually inadequate in volume to accommodate much irrigation during the dry periods. Rule of thumb for irrigation requirements are .623 gallons per square foot of planting area per week, or 1″ of rainfall for the healthy growth of plants. This can add up rather quickly; 1,000 square feet of planting requires 623 gallons per week, 2,500 gallons for 1 month or 7,500 gallons for the typical 3 month dry season.

The outcome of this is that a good deal of money is spent to get rid of a good resource with little benefit –  other than compliance with the code. Cisterns and infiltration designs, engineering and implementation can be costly.

RainBank Rainwater Systems takes a more holistic approach to the stormwater code by using rainwater collection for domestic use. With a smaller amount of storage, rainwater can be collected and used for toilet flushing and laundry facility. Almost half of residential water consumption is for these two purposes. That’s right — 48%, per the American Water Works Association. During the rainy season, demand is met by a continued source replenishing the storage. During the dry season, the storage provides enough water to meet these demands. The cost of this type of system is comparable to the coasts of a detention/infiltration system, while reducing your water bill as much as 48% annually.

Rainwater system storage can be underground, where detention tanks cannot. The visual impact and space requirements are reduced, costs are reduced with a return on investment, environmental impacts are reduced, and conservation of city water is enhanced.

RainBank Rainwater Systems will work with your architect, drainage engineer, and contractor to meet the challenge of drainage requirements for your new residential construction. Our designs and installs have been helping meet these challenges for more than 15 years throughout Washington State. RainBank’s team has the experience to turn the requirement of drainage codes into an asset for the customer and the environment.

Contact us now to turn a potentially costly requirement into a win for your project and for the environment.

Environmental Benefits to Rainwater Harvesting

woman in rain-756647_640Whether it is a small rain barrel garden system or the largest commercial irrigation system, there are many environmental benefits to rainwater harvesting.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a climate that sustains and nurtures our forests, lakes, rivers, and lifestyles. Often we grumble a little about the long dreary rainy days of autumn and winter, dreaming of summer months of enjoyment and recreation that our beautiful state offers. It is the rain that feeds our mountains with snow, keeps our rivers and lakes full, our forests green, our air clean, and our water supplies replenished. We are fortunate to live where the climatic conditions offer a seemingly never ending supply. and never give it much thought. Water from oceans, lakes, rivers turn into water vapor during evaporation, then condensate into droplets that form clouds. As the clouds become heavy they lose their water through rain or snow and the cycle starts over again. Protecting the cycle of water with sustainable, environmental practices and conservation will help ensure our water supplies for future generations. 

What if we interrupted that cycle for a moment? Borrow that water briefly? Then, return it to the natural cycle without a lot of energy. Rainwater harvesting does just that by on site collection, storage and use returning it through infiltration.  Rainwater harvesting:

CONSERVES WATER : 50 – 70 % household use is used for landscaping. It does not need to be treated to drinking water standards.

CONSERVES ENERGY: Rainwater collection bypasses a centralized system, conserving energy.

PREVENTS FLOODING & EROSION: Less stormwater to manage by diverting it to storage, then usage.

DECREASES WATER CONTAMINATION: Limiting runoff which pick up contaminants as surface water.

REPLENISHES AQUIFERS:  Washington State Ecology determined that in stream flow rates and Aquifers benefitted from rainwater collection and infiltration.

Other benefits include lower monthly water bills, provides naturally soft water, use of less detergents and soaps. If properly filtered and disinfected, rainwater can be used for whole house demands including drinking water, free of chlorine and other additives used in municipal water supplies. Rainwater collection can be a practical answer to storm water and drainage codes, allowing for mitigation of the roof area as an impervious surface. 

So when it rains here in Seattle, look at it as a gift – a gift that we can pay forward by common sense stewardship of this life sustaining resource.