Tag Archives: Animas River

Is it Time to Consider Rainwater Collection as a Viable Water Source?

biohazard-295141_640Why should rainwater collection be considered as a viable water source?

When public water supplies become damaged or compromised, especially due to human error, we must consider other viable options.

Over the last year we all have read articles about contamination of public water sources. The most recent in Flint Michigan has alarmed the nation. Old pipes in the infrastructure leached lead into the supply system caused by corrosive water when emergency managers switched water from Lake Harrow to the Flint River, affecting more than 1,000,000 people.

animas-river-pollutionIn August 2015, an estimated 3 million gallons of mine waste was released into a tributary, which flows into the Animas River near Durango Colorado. The mustard colored sludge contained high levels of arsenic, lead, and cadmium making the river and nearby wells unsafe for humans.

In April 2015, the nation’s largest electrical company Duke Energy was found guilty of contaminating nearby wells with heavy metals such as vanadium and chromium. Local streams and lakes were also affected from contaminants from Duke’s Coal ash pits.

Collecting rain makes sense. Whether you collect it in rain barrels or your storage needs require larger cisterns, rainwater collection and use has a host of benefits.

(c) Andrew Suryono, Indonesia, Entry, Nature and Wildlife Category, Open Competition, 2015 Sony World Photography AwardsHere are two main reasons why you should change your way of thinking about rainwater collection:

  • Rainwater can be a clean, safe, reliable source of potable and non-potable water
  • Rainwater is relatively clean to begin with and if collected, conveyed, stored, filtered and disinfected properly, it can meet the needs of small scale watering to whole house potable use

Why Harvest Rain During a Drought?

water-102952_640With little rain falling from the sky, the drought in Washington and California has forced the issue of mandates for businesses and individuals to cut water use.

Why waste precious drops when they can be harvested from the roof?

In a recent story about harvesting rainwater during the drought, designer Mike Brioli of Living Systems Designs is interviewed about his own rainwater collection system, which funnels water from his roof through a filter to a 1,500-gallon tank hidden above ground behind greenery. Then, underground pipes lead the rainwater to a pumping system. The collected rainwater is used for toilet flushing and laundry.

Brioli receives a couple of calls per day from folks interested in their own system, inquiring about cost, space needed and steps that need to be taken to design and install a rain harvesting system.

Systems can range from simple rain barrels for garden irrigation, to more elaborate and expensive systems, where water is collected, filtered and treated and used for drinking.

While a potable system may require a larger investment, the long-term savings are measurable. Plus, aging infrastructure is a concern in some areas. Having a rainwater collection system designed and installed is a way for residential and business customers to supplement city or well water in the event of a shortage or even worse, fear of health risk, such as was caused by the hazardous spill into the Animas River in Colorado, which spread to New Mexico and Utah.

Animas River Toxic Spill Poses Serious Health Risks

animas-river-pollutionThe August 5th Animas River spill is now delivering serious health risks to three states – Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Our recent blog post details how the orange colored, contaminated water could be seen working its way toward New Mexico and now, today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that “surface-water testing revealed very high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals as a sickly-yellow plume of mine waste flowed through Colorado.”

The AP story further reports, “Over the long term, these metals can seep into the surrounding water table, potentially polluting drinking wells. The EPA has offered free water testing for homeowners with wells close to the river, but it’s unclear how long that offer stands.”

CBS News reports “Toxicologists say those people who live along the Animas River could be ingesting the contaminated water in any number of ways, such as drinking it or showering in it.”

As we talk about heavy metals being released into our waterways, the keyword here is HEAVY. While some will flow and be naturally flushed away, a great risk is that toxins will sink to the bottom and remain in the water, continuing to contaminate even after the yellow color dissipates and the water begins to appear to be normal.

In its article Rainwater Harvesting Can Create Safe, Decentralized Water Supplies, The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) reports, “A well-designed, installed and maintained rainwater harvesting system can provide significant amounts of high-quality water for potable and non-potable, residential and commercial use. Even in the arid Four Corners area of this spill, ample water can be harvested.”

It’s time for all states to begin allowing rainwater collection for potable and non-potable use, so individuals and businesses can harvest water for their own health and well being.

Animas River Pollution Photo courtesy of Snopes