Tag Archives: water conservation

Environmental Benefits to Rainwater Harvesting

woman in rain-756647_640Whether it is a small rain barrel garden system or the largest commercial irrigation system, there are many environmental benefits to rainwater harvesting.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have a climate that sustains and nurtures our forests, lakes, rivers, and lifestyles. Often we grumble a little about the long dreary rainy days of autumn and winter, dreaming of summer months of enjoyment and recreation that our beautiful state offers. It is the rain that feeds our mountains with snow, keeps our rivers and lakes full, our forests green, our air clean, and our water supplies replenished. We are fortunate to live where the climatic conditions offer a seemingly never ending supply. and never give it much thought. Water from oceans, lakes, rivers turn into water vapor during evaporation, then condensate into droplets that form clouds. As the clouds become heavy they lose their water through rain or snow and the cycle starts over again. Protecting the cycle of water with sustainable, environmental practices and conservation will help ensure our water supplies for future generations. 

What if we interrupted that cycle for a moment? Borrow that water briefly? Then, return it to the natural cycle without a lot of energy. Rainwater harvesting does just that by on site collection, storage and use returning it through infiltration.  Rainwater harvesting:

CONSERVES WATER : 50 – 70 % household use is used for landscaping. It does not need to be treated to drinking water standards.

CONSERVES ENERGY: Rainwater collection bypasses a centralized system, conserving energy.

PREVENTS FLOODING & EROSION: Less stormwater to manage by diverting it to storage, then usage.

DECREASES WATER CONTAMINATION: Limiting runoff which pick up contaminants as surface water.

REPLENISHES AQUIFERS:  Washington State Ecology determined that in stream flow rates and Aquifers benefitted from rainwater collection and infiltration.

Other benefits include lower monthly water bills, provides naturally soft water, use of less detergents and soaps. If properly filtered and disinfected, rainwater can be used for whole house demands including drinking water, free of chlorine and other additives used in municipal water supplies. Rainwater collection can be a practical answer to storm water and drainage codes, allowing for mitigation of the roof area as an impervious surface. 

So when it rains here in Seattle, look at it as a gift – a gift that we can pay forward by common sense stewardship of this life sustaining resource.  

11th Annual ARCSA Conference


ARCSA CONFERENCE | November 9-10, 2015
ARCSA/IA EXPO | November 11-12, 2015
Accredited Professional Workshop | November 12-13, 2015

The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association  (ARCSA) continues to encourage the protection of our planet and our nation’s resources.

ARCSA will be co-hosting this year’s conference with the Irrigation Association. Exhibits, education seminars, and guest speakers will be on hand to answer your questions on rainwater collection practices.

The demand for drinking water will double in the next 40 years. To meet this demand, we need to conserve today. Rainwater collection is one alternative to conserve our water supplies. 50 – 70% of household water is used for non-potable demand. Irrigation, wash down, laundry and toilets can all use filtered rainwater rather than becoming runoff. Potable use can be achieved with proper filtration and disinfection.

Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value”

Please join us this year for the national conference and the advancement of water conservation. For more information, and to register, please click here.

California Drought is a Crisis Not an Inconvenience

California Drought MonitorThe news is exploding with commentary on every angle of the drought in California, pitting industry against the general public. With all the posturing of a political thread on Facebook, opposing sides are slinging blame, “the other guy needs to do something” and coming up with “facts” as to why.

A  20% voluntary reduction failed miserably across the board and with 99% of the state feeling the effects of drought and 66% in “extreme or exceptional” drought (according to the US Drought Monitor), it is now clear to all that action needs to be taken immediately — and by all. Governor Brown’s mandatory restrictions of 25% is a start, but they need to be implemented collectively. Limiting lawn watering and driveway wash down,  while a help,  is not going to be the fix. The affluent will simply pay the fines, leaving the burden on the less wealthy, and will also not generate much in the way of water savings. It is difficult to see where anyone has taken proactive drought measures to date, instead relying on “the other guy needs to do something” attitude.  The drought issue should have been appropriately addressed a few years ago. After four years of drought, not much has action has happened, other than to drill deeper.

The solution is for all to collectively to come together and adjust our lifestyle (public) or operations (industry) for the good of all. Simply hoping that the drought will end naturally in another year will most likely end with the same results as this past year’s use, showing more consumption than ever.

We must stop taking water for granted. We turn on the tap and don’t think about the fact that there might not be enough. We’ve never had to worry about it before, so why should we now?

The greatest impact will be made by increasing the price of water – keeping in mind that there needs to be water available for basic needs such as hydration, hygiene and food production. This does not mean high water use agriculture should continue with business as usual.  It may be time to plan for a more sustainable crop based on nutrition needs and resource availability, rather than high profits. Fracking for natural gas and oil in the drought area should be restricted at best, if not halted immediately and the general public should also curtail unnecessary water use.

The drought is a crisis, not an inconvenience. Stalling the fix by means of fighting over the water will end up in a disaster that none of us will be able to live with. A concerted effort, along with a huge change in policy with adherence is needed for long term solutions to this drought.

California has a chance to show the world what its government, people and industry can do in the face of a natural disaster – or they can show us the alternative of what we may indeed have become.