Tag Archives: city water

Poorly Designed Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Poorly designed and maintained rainwater harvesting systems can be more than unpleasant.

As many others did, I built a house in the Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii in the 1980’s. The inexpensive properties of the subdivisions above Hilo provided an opportunity for home ownership to those who could not otherwise afford to build. The subdivisions were created in the 1960’s and 70’s as agricultural, with little infrastructure, certainly no water source. As everyone else did, I built my own rainwater catchment system, designed based on what everyone else was doing. The county provided “city water” stops along Kamehameha Highway, for drinking water for those on rainwater catchment. All other household water use was provided by the catchment system with little filtering and no real disinfection. UV disinfection was not available for small water systems at that time. 

Many systems were owner built and consisted of a “pool boy” – an above ground swimming pool with a non potable liner. There were some corrugated steel and a few cement or wooden tanks. Many of the roofs were asphalt shingle, causing a bit of a sheen on the water surface during the hot day. A sediment filter prior to the pump was the typical filtration train and, as mentioned, no disinfection. But, no one was drinking it as far as I knew. 

For decades there were no regulations for rainwater catchment systems in Hawaii. Systems were built with not much consideration of public health. Essentially, a large community with no oversight to standards or safe practices. Now, many of these antiquated systems are being contaminated by slugs and snails which have been found to carry “rat lungworm parasite”, a potentially devastating disease. Please see below article.

Water Catchment Systems Need to be Properly Maintained

Rainwater catchment can be a safe, viable alternative to ground water “IF” proper best practices are followed. The industry has grown considerably, along with most states having some type of regulations and permitting.

ARCSA/ASPE/ANSI 63 has been adopted as code by most municipalities that allow rainwater collection for potable use. ARCSA Accredited Professionals are trained and must participate in continuing education in order to keep their accreditation. Designs for permitting are being submitted to Health Departments for plans review. Inspections by county plumbing inspectors during construction of systems is common with bacterial sampling required by some.

It is not the 70s and 80s any longer and rainwater catchment for potable use has hit an all time high here in Washington State. Systems are being designed and installed by professionals that have the training and experience needed for the well-being of their customers. Check with your contractor to be sure they are ARCSA Accredited and know the code requirements. By doing so, you will be assuring that your water source is safe for you and your family.

Rainwater Collection Can Cut Demands on Urban Water Supplies

Space_Needle_Mount_Ranier_Seattle_Washington_USAUrban growth, especially as seen in Seattle, can actually help cut demands on city water supplies. Still valid today, we wrote about this in July 2014 under the title Rainwater Collection Reduces Dependence on City Water in Seattle. Read more below:

As anyone who lives in Seattle can see, there is a massive amount of rental construction happening. With the growth of the South End of Lake Union and the Ballard area, over 23,000 units are expected to be added in the next few years.

A cultural shift in water conservation with simple technology can reduce the amounts of water usage through more effective water management practices. While the “Green Storm Water Infrastructure” or GSI mandates that runoff from impervious surfaces is to be infiltrated on site, other innovative and effective technologies are crucial in reducing the need for upgrading and expansion of sewer and centralized water systems.

Think of the reduction of the amounts of water coming off our roofs into stormwater if we diverted that water to usage such as toilet flushing and laundry facility. This practice could cut runoff by as much as 50% in high density housing complexes, while saving hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be used to meet the demand.

Bio swells and rain gardens do very little for infiltration during the rainy periods when the ground is already saturated. Rainwater collection used for toilet and laundry facility could be using that water during those months rather than having it overflow, and it would reduce the run off during those periods. The end product would be reduction of stormwater runoff, less dependence on city water and its infrastructure, cost savings to the building owner and tenants, better use of our natural resource, while reducing pollutants in our waterways.

Learn more about rainwater collection and whether it is a good fit for your home or commercial project. Use the form below to request a quote for a feasibility study.