Tag Archives: Washington State

Rainwater Collection in Washington State: Where to Begin?

gutter-484684_640We want to keep our families safe, but when we read stories about sustainability, water conservation, saving the environment, aging infrastructure, even poisoned public water systems – how on earth are we supposed to know where to begin when it comes to rainwater collection?

Here are some tips that can help you decide where to begin. We originally discussed this in a post from 2014:

Whether you are designing your own rainwater catchment system or having one designed by a professional, success of your rainwater catchment system design is dependent on some key factors.

What do I want to accomplish with my design of a rainwater catchment system?

Irrigation, toilet and or laundry facility, supplementary to well water or city water, whole house usage, and sole source are the main purpose of designs.

How much rainwater can I collect from my roof? Will it be enough to supply my needs?

One inch of rainfall per 1,000 square feet of roof will yield approximately 623 gallons of water. Evaporation, wind, and spillage account for 15 – 20 % of loss. A 2,000 square foot roof with 36″ of annual rainfall may yield 44,856 gallons. With an efficiency of 85%, that equals 38,128 gallons.

One inch of rain is needed for the healthy growth of plants. This equates to .623 gallons per week for 1 square foot of planting, which can add up rather fast, so keeping your irrigation needs small and giving consideration to drought tolerant plants is recommended.

Toilet and laundry facilities account for 49% of household usage. Designing and building a system for this purpose alone can cut your water and sewer bill in half. New construction is the best time to implement this type of system however, retrofitting plumbing in an existing home can be accomplished.

Rainwater Catchment System Key FactorsIf the collection area is small or available space for storage is restricted, a supplementary system can be achieved with “slim line” style of cisterns or buried tanks. A small roof can still be effective in collection if used for a supplementary source to well water or city water.

Whole house usage, or potable water, can eliminate dependency on city water or well water, where you can still have city or well water as a back up during dry times. With the advanced filtration and UV disinfection offered today, safe, reliable drinking water for whole house usage will exceed the quality of most well and city water.

Now that you are considering what usage of collected rainfall would best suit your needs, we will discuss sizing, configuration, implementation, and maintenance of a designed rainwater catchment system in upcoming posts.

When you are ready to begin, RainBank will come to your site, discuss your needs and prepare a feasibility study – customized to your usage. There is a fee for this, which would be discounted from the cost when you contract with us to design or build your system. Use the form below to request a quote.

Washington State Drought Emergency

Governor InsleeOn May 15, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency.

In his announcement, Governor Inslee states, “We’re really starting to feel the pain from this snowpack drought. Impacts are already severe in several areas of the state. Difficult decisions are being made about what crops get priority water and how best to save fish.”

With the snowpack at 16% of normal, the runoff is expected to be the lowest in 64 years. The Department of Ecology has requested 9.5 million in drought relief. Much of the drought relief will be spent on agriculture and department of fish and wildlife in the way of emergency drought applications for farmers and funding action now for fish passage.

A small amount of emergency relief will through conservation education. To little to late? While the response from the Governor’s office has been timely for the current drought, RainBank Rainwater Systems president Ken Blair, along with the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) have been providing education about water conservation for years.

“We have experienced pretty much normal rainfall amounts this year, it is the lack of snowpack that will be the issue this summer”, explains Blair. Storage and use of roof runoff helps reduce the demand on our local reservoirs and aquifers 100 % of the time, leaving more available water during dry periods. With the use of rainwater collection, both for residential and commercial application, demand is lowered and storage is increased. This does not do much for irrigation in agriculture but it does supplement domestic use and enhances in stream flow rates. A simple rainwater collection system can yield enough water from the roof to supplement or fully support a residence with its water demand. Commercial application can be used for non potable usage and mitigate much of the building’s water demand.

RainBank Rainwater Systems applauds Governor Inslee in being proactive in his delegation of this water emergency, but encourages more education in conservation methods for future water shortages. Education and implementation will help assure water for the future.

Drought Emergency Declared in Washington State

drought washington stateWhile rainfall amounts in Washington State are at 100%, it is the snowpack that has Governor Inslee expanding drought declarations.

Urban water supplies expect to be unaffected; the reservoirs are about where we want them to be. “The snow pack above Coulee Dam is running above normal”, according to Michael Hansen, Bonneville Power Administration. Hansen goes on to say, “We’re not anticipating that we’re going to have any problem meeting our obligations”.

20150414_wa_noneSnow pack in the Cascades is 7-50% of normal and the Olympics at only 7% at the end of March. The US Drought Monitor shows that the affected areas of “abnormally dry” is the North Eastern part of the state with the South Eastern being “moderately dry” while the Olympics are at “moderately dry”.

The reduced snow pack and its limited runoff, will have a negative effect on in stream flow rates in most of our rivers this summer. Joe Stohr, Department of Fish and Wildlife, commented that “Drought could also reduce streamflows that make it harder for fish to migrate.” It is expected that rural areas will see more of the effects than urban areas such as Seattle, Tacoma, etc. But, this could change, as we get further into the normally drier months.

Most of us aren’t even aware that the last statewide drought declaration was in 2005, because of large reservoirs and reserves. We’re fortunate for our climate and our mountains to make drought conditions short lived. With a little conservation and emergency procedures for irrigation of our farmlands, little effects on our lives will be experienced. Reduction of demand on wells will help our in stream flow rates, and temporary closures or limits on fishing will help our salmon. Conservation now rather than waiting to see what happens is good policy. While it is unlikely we will ever see drought like California is experiencing, we should practice measures to ensure our natural habitat and protect it for future generations in Washington State. Simple conservation techniques will support a healthy environment and balance of our eco system.