Tag Archives: roof runoff

New Seattle Homeowners Can Save Big Bucks

Galvanized Water TankDo you know that by installing a rainwater collection system for toilet flushing and laundry facility, Seattle homeowners can save big bucks on their water and sewer bill? Considering the expected price increases over the next 5 – 10 years on these utilities, a return on investment is a reasonable expectation.

A study by the American Water Works Association to determine end use of water in 100 single family homes was conducted back in 1999. Even though the study is dated, it is a good indicator of average single family usage with regard to rainwater collection.

The study found that 27.7 % total household use of water is used in toilet flushing and 20.9% total household water use is by laundry facility. These uses can be improved by low usage fixtures such as dual flush toilets and front load washers, however, they do indicate an average of 48.6 % water consumption by these two fixtures.

New home construction in the Seattle area is required to mitigate roof runoff on impervious surfaces on site. Costs of infiltration can be expensive.  A well-designed and installed rainwater catchment system uses this runoff water for domestic use rather than infiltration. By redirecting the costs of infiltration design and construction and considering the savings on water and sewer bills, the average Seattle home owner can see a significant cost savings as well as a return on investment.

With all of the news about aging water systems, poisoned and tainted public water, conservation and sustainability, isn’t it time to design and build your rainwater collection system?

This post was originally published under the title Can Average Seattle Homeowner Benefit From Rainwater Collection?

Should I Collect Rainwater From My Roof ?

rain-432770_1280There are many good reasons for collecting rainwater from your roof. By doing so, you would be helping to protect our rivers, streams, lakes, sounds, bays, and oceans from pollutants entering these bodies of water through stormwater runoff.

A combined sewer is a type of sewer system that collects sewage and surface runoff in a single pipe system. Combined sewers can cause serious water pollution problems due to combined sewer overflows, which are caused by large variations in flow between dry and wet weather. This type of sewer design is no longer used in building new communities (because modern design separates sanitary sewers from runoff), but many older cities continue to operate combined sewers.

By reducing runoff from our roofs, less water is entering the combined sewer system, reducing amounts of discharge into our bodies of water.

Collecting rainwater from our roofs reduces demand on our centralized water systems.

The overwhelming majority of the water used in the U.S. comes from freshwater supplies of surface and groundwater. Water extracted for public systems is treated to potable standards as defined by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Access to high quality water has greatly benefited public health, but it has also resulted in our current system which utilizes potable water for virtually every end use, even when lesser quality water would be sufficient. In addition to conservation methods, using alternative sources of water will be necessary for more efficient use of water resources.

Rainwater collection reduces electrical usage.

According to the EPA’S Rainwater Harvesting Policies, Municipal Handbook, the connection between water and energy is often overlooked, but the process of extracting water from surface or groundwater supplies, bringing it to treatment facilities, treating it to drinking water standards, and delivering it to residential and commercial customers expends energy – primarily because of pumping and treatment costs. The water sector consumes 3% of the electricity generated in the U.S. and electricity accounts for approximately one-third of utilities’ operating costs. Reducing potable water demand by 10% could save approximately 300 billion kilowatt- hours of energy each year. Water reuse systems, like rainwater harvesting, supplant potable water and reduce demand. The reduced water demand provided by rainwater harvesting systems translates directly to energy savings.

Collecting rainwater provides a safe, clean, reliable source of water and has many benefits available to the consumer.

Student Teams Compete for Sustainability Grants

waterwheel-233527_640According to an article in Water Citizen News, student teams showcased their projects at this year’s National Sustainable Design Expo while competing for the 11th Annual EPA People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) awards.

Through the P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers opportunities to college students to compete for grants for their ideas that promote sustainable solutions that benefit people and the planet.

In April, teams brought bring their projects to the National Sustainable Design Expo for judging by a panel of experts from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The best student projects have the chance to win funding up to $75,000 to move the project design through to implementation and potentially, the marketplace. This year’s expo (Phase 2) was held from April 11-12 at Oronoco Bay Park in Alexandria, VA.

Several ideas were submitted, covering a range of topics across the spectrum of planet preservation like conversion of food waste into energy and using wastewater for crop fertilization, or ways to save water.

Among this year’s winners, an honorable mention went to the team from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University for Floating Island on a Roof for Rainwater Management.

Their idea addressed 2 issues faced by large cities:

  • Storm water management and
  • Loss of green spaces.

The project focused on urban growth causing a rise in impervious surfaces, which advances the amount of untreated rainwater runoff in rivers and lakes instead of penetrating porous soil; and that urban development also decreases area for vegetation, resulting in loss of biological diversity and also creating an urban heat island.

Students’ design objective was to reduce runoff from roofs, and provide biological diversity in urban areas using a ‘Floating Island on a Roof’, consisting of a pond on a roof with a floating island. The expected results are runoff reduction from roofs and an increase in green space and biodiversity in urban or built environments.

Congratulations to all of the participants for their efforts to preserve our planet through innovative and forward thinking, and to the EPA and American Association for the Advancement of Science for funding ideas that support a sustainable future.