Rainwater Collection for Potable Use in an Urban Environment

seattle-skylineSupplementary whole-house use of rainwater in an urban environment is more complex than collecting for potable use in a rural environment. In a rural environment, there is typically more room for storage, allowing the homeowner to store more water than that in an urban setting.

The larger question, however, is – what is landing on my roof and how do I know my collected water will be safe to drink?

In a rural setting, organics are what you need to filter out before the water is to be disinfected and considered potable. A sediment filter, followed by a carbon filter prior to ultraviolet disinfection can achieve this. Bird droppings are the primary concern in this situation.

In an urban environment, other constituents coming in contact with your roof may need to be addressed. Consider where your home is located. Environmental considerations such as automobile and truck emissions can have an impact on your roof runoff and must be removed with proper filtration. Pesticide use is more likely to be encountered in an urban setting than a rural environment. Simple sampling and laboratory testing should be conducted of raw water so proper filtration can be used to eliminate possible contaminants.

Urban potable usage of roof top collected water can be achieved with the proper filtration as with any rural potable system as long as the right filtration is used.

Photo: Julie Gentry

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.

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.