As World Demand for Water Mounts – How Much is it Really Worth?

Since we’re still searching for answers, and the world need for water continues to mount, here is a repost of our article originally titled How Much is Water (Conservation) Worth?

The question in itself is a huge discussion among corporate leaders and governmental agencies throughout the world. With increased demands of growing populations, droughts which plague many regions globally, and the lack of conservation, many are asking “how do we protect a common resource throughout the world, while providing a necessity of life for all of its inhabitants?” According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “We have a genuine, burgeoning, boundary – crossing crisis over water.” PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi says “The world water crisis is one of the most pressing challenges of our age.”

Companies are concerned as farmland suffers and the demand for water mounts. What is the solution? According to Fortune Magazine, “Some say: make people pay more for the most precious commodity on earth. “When water has no value, even low-cost technology will never get implemented on a large scale.”  Furthermore, the article deems that water is so inexpensive that there is no incentive for conservation. Water needed for drinking, cooking, farming and basic life supporting necessities needs to be available to all, while there should be limits on non-essential use of water with cost increases to offset conservation practices and technologies.

The city of San Diego, which has experienced a drought not seen before in our lifetime, is investing money in large scale desalinization systems, paid for, in part, by a tiered water pricing system. While many think this to be controversial, the need is there, without some sort of rethinking how we manage our water supplies, there will be little water to manage.

While rainwater collection is not going to be the final answer to water conservation, it certainly is a simple step that can be adopted relatively inexpensively, and with positive results on a small scale. Think about the money that can be saved by our municipal water districts which can then be redirected to other methods of supplying water. If the city of San Diego, as well as other cities would realize the value of water and encourage rainwater collection on a larger scale, we could conserve over half the amount of water being wasted for non-essential use.

What steps have you taken to conserve water?  Leave a comment.

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We are grateful for your service.

Storey’s Water Tower

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.

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