Tag Archives: Snohomish

Potable Rainwater Collection Adopted in Snohomish County

Snohomish County adopts rainwater collection for potable usage for single family residence.

In September 2015, we published a post recommending that both Snohomish and Pierce Counties adopt rainwater collection for residential potable usage. The necessity for adoption was presented considering a 30% reduction in water availability was predicted in the next 35 years.

The Seattle Times reported about the Hirst Decision and its effects in rural development in many counties throughout Washington. These counties should follow the lead of counties before them by providing a sustainable, viable water rights decision on single family residences that allows for potable rainwater systems. It is the only fair decision to be made.

We congratulate Snohomish County for having a progressive approach to water conservation.  Adding to our list of firsts, this week, we will install the first potable residential system in Wahkiakum County upon their acceptance of a RainBank Rainwater Systems design.

RainBank Rainwater Systems has been Designing and installing Rainwater collection for residential potable usage for over 16 years. We will continue to promote, advise, and educate rainwater collection as a viable, sustainable water source in all counties in Washington State.

We look forward to helping those in Snohomish County achieve water rights for potable usage using rainwater collection.

Water Districts Must Adopt Potable Rainwater Collection

water-243046_640Even with the current drought, some water districts, municipalities and counties in Washington are still not on board with collection of rainwater for potable usage.

With the newly released water supply predictions from Seattle Public Utilities stating that a 30% reduction in available water within the next 35 years is likely, counties and municipalities in Washington State that do not currently allow for potable use of collected rainwater should reconsider this position.

Both Pierce and Snohomish County water districts have yet to allow rainwater collection for potable usage for residential use. The cities of Bellevue and Sammamish, even though part of King County, which for several years has allowed rainwater harvesting for potable use, continue to refuse rainwater collection as a potable source of water for a single-family residence. Both county’s water districts, along with Seattle Public Utilities are part of television advertising campaign asking customers to take shorter showers and only do full loads of laundry and dishwashing.

Is this their solution to the growing problem of water availability? I recently met with the water district in Pierce County at Pacific Lutheran University about a possible project for sustainability including rainwater collection for a dwelling on campus, to be used as an example of potable use. The purpose was for students to gain experience about rainwater harvesting in a real life . A representative of the water district told us it would never happen as long as he was in charge.

I recently represented a customer in Sammamish who was pursuing rainwater collection for non-potable use (toilet and laundry facility) for five new single family residences and was met with significant opposition by city officials. Multiple meetings with the city resulted in the customer giving up his pursuit. Instead, the houses will be totally dependent on the city water supply.

Snohomish County’s smaller water districts have resorted to purchasing water from the city of Everett during this drought because of their water supply running extremely low this summer. But yet, the county still takes the stance of not allowing residential potable usage of collected rainfall. What we’re talking about is rain that could be collected during rain events to help supplement a burdened city water supply.

Most counties in Eastern Washington, even though extremely affected by the drought, have yet to adopt rainwater collection for potable use.

It is time for these districts to become educated in the benefits of rainwater collection and allow customers to become their own purveyors of their own water. To be held hostage by the water districts because of revenues is not only wrong, but it also intensifies the water shortage issues we have experienced and will continue to experience.

Skagit County Permits RWC as Sole Source of Water


Can we protect the Skagit River Salmon Habitat while allowing single family residential development?

The Washington State Department of Ecology has worked with local government, tribes, utilities, and landowners to develop a sustainable water supply solution to the “in stream flow rates” described in RCW19.27.097.  As such, the Skagit County Building Department issued its first building permit for a single-family residence using rainwater collection as the sole source of water supply. The “water availability” was issued by the Skagit County Health Department recently for a single-family dwelling.

The use of rainwater collection as a source of water for building permits has been a solution that ecology has recommended in the past. Development of single-family dwellings in the river basin was unable to proceed with permitting because of well allocations having exceeded the allowed amounts. This left property owners, local governments, and tribes at odds to an agreeable solution. Of course that brings up the question “what effects does rainwater collection have on the river and it’s in stream flow rates.”

The Department of Ecology has conducted studies on rainwater collection and its effect on in stream flow rates and has concluded the practice to be beneficial to in stream flow rates.

From the Department of Ecology: Alternative Water Supplies – “We encourage Skagit and Snohomish County to remove any remaining obstacles to property owner’s use of rainwater and trucked-in water for property owners who find this option attractive and who wish to build without delay.”

RWC tankRainwater is collected and diverted to storage for domestic household use. Then conveyed to filtration and disinfection for potable use resulting in a viable source of safe, clean drinking water. After domestic use, wastewater is directed to a typical septic system and infiltrated on site. Without this process, normal rainfall would simply be considered runoff causing possible erosion or evaporation. Storm water runoff can carry harmful pollutants into bodies of water causing significant damage to salmon habitat. Additionally, evaporation causes very little replenishment to the stream. The use of rainwater collection removes both of these possibilities by diverting the rainfall to storage and, after its use, is infiltrated through an approved septic system, naturally replenishing the stream. Simply put, the water is borrowed for use then returned to its natural flow.

RainBank has been designing and installing rainwater collection systems throughout the Pacific Northwest for 12 years and is pleased to be the installer of the first permitted RWC system in the Skagit River Basin, knowing that the river is protected and landowners have a viable solution for development of their property.

Bald Eagle courtesy of  William H. Majoros (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons