Potable residential use of collected rainwater is on the rise since the statewide water rights laws were challenged in 2006 by the Washington Department of Ecology, allowing the entire state of Washington to collect and use rainwater for non-potable (non-drinking) use. San Juan County had been awarded an exemption to the 1800’s water rights laws and was already issuing residential building permits with rainwater collection as the only source of water. RainBank’s president, Ken Blair, was personally awarded a building permit in 2002 for his “water availability” being the only source of water for his household. It was not the first, but was certainly at the forefront of rainwater collection’s progression and, throughout the years, RainBank, has continued with that effort.
For close to 20 years, RainBank has shared its deep rainwater collection knowledge, working with many counties as they move toward increased adoption of potable residential rainwater collection systems for single family residences, and remains committed to providing quality engineered designs, professionally installed.
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A designed rainwater collection system for the ages, Storey’s water tower was designed and built as a sole source rainwater collection system for a household in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. The Storeys constructed a home on an isthmus with panoramic water views facing either side of the house. While spectacular, there was little chance of drilling a potable well, since water was only 150 feet from either side of the house. The total square foot of the house and shop would yield approximately 900 gallons per inch of rainfall.
The water is screened as it enters the roof gutter system, then finer screening and sedimentation occurs before gravity feeding into the sump tank. A float switch will activate a sump pump to convey water to this magnificent water tower, with a office space on top, to enjoy those views.
The system is pressurized with a with a centrifugal pump and pressure tank which feeds a 5-micron sediment filter followed by carbon filtration. The Story’s were pleased with their new system even though “It lacks mineral value, but that’s alright, as long as it keeps one mineral out – salt water.”, said Mrs. Storey. That was 1977!
Coincidentally, I visited this house in the mid-eighties, before I had knowledge of rainwater collection. I was fascinated with the concept and impressed with the design and craftsmanship. The thought of a self-sustaining water system, when no other source was available, made perfect sense. The simple mechanics of prescreening, pre-filtering, and pressurized conveyance is the basis of best practices still used today.
I had an opportunity last month to conduct an inspection of this system for the new owners and was thrilled to see. with a few improvements and UV sterilization, this system is still producing a sustainable source of potable water, and can be expected to continue for another forty years.
Snohomish County adopts rainwater collection for potable usage for single family residence.
In September 2015, we published a post recommending that both Snohomish and Pierce Counties adopt rainwater collection for residential potable usage. The necessity for adoption was presented considering a 30% reduction in water availability was predicted in the next 35 years.
The Seattle Times reported about the Hirst Decision and its effects in rural development in many counties throughout Washington. These counties should follow the lead of counties before them by providing a sustainable, viable water rights decision on single family residences that allows for potable rainwater systems. It is the only fair decision to be made.
We congratulate Snohomish County for having a progressive approach to water conservation. Adding to our list of firsts, this week, we will install the first potable residential system in Wahkiakum County upon their acceptance of a RainBank Rainwater Systems design.
RainBank Rainwater Systems has been Designing and installing Rainwater collection for residential potable usage for over 16 years. We will continue to promote, advise, and educate rainwater collection as a viable, sustainable water source in all counties in Washington State.
We look forward to helping those in Snohomish County achieve water rights for potable usage using rainwater collection.