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.

Ken Blair
A rainwater collection systems designer and consultant, Ken has designed and installed residential and commercial systems, primarily in the northwest United States for more than 10 years and, in 2014, began consulting and managing builds in other states. Ken is an accredited ARCSA Professional Designer / Installer and Life Member, the Northwest Regional ARCSA representative and advisor to its education committee and is available to speak about Rainwater Collection Systems design and builds.

Ken is a United States Navy veteran, having served on active duty during the Vietnam War era. He attained the rate of E-4 Machinist Mate.

A career entrepreneur, Ken created a new business focus with a commercial dive company in Hawaii in the mid 1980′s to respond to and clean up oil spills, oil spill equipment training, service and maintenance for the oil co-op service industry. Ken is passionate about having a positive impact on the environment and is also a founding director of BANK-ON-RAIN (2011-2014), whose mission is to create grassroots solutions for rainwater collection for consumption and agriculture in developing areas of the planet.

2 thoughts on “Water Districts Must Adopt Potable Rainwater Collection”

  1. Good post! If these planners and sanitarians can’t do anything other than say no, they should run for congress. We are fast becoming a third world country unable to visualize new approaches to solve problems. Let ’em flush their toilets with beer.

    1. Thanks Mike, I was actually told by the Tacoma water district representative at the meeting ” I suppose if the house was on fire you would want to use city water to put it out”

      I was lost for words, if you can imagine.

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