This is a guest post written by Amy Lizee from Environment911.org:
Rainwater harvesting is not something that is new to society. In fact, “the oldest evidence of roof catchment systems date back to Roman times. Roman villas and even whole cities were designed to take advantage of rainwater as the principal water source for drinking and domestic purposes since at least 2000 B.Cs” 1
However, as society developed and evolved, the use of rainwater become less and less. Although individuals in the agricultural segment use rainwater to grow their crops and feed livestock, it has been almost completely forgotten in the urban setting.
While rainwater harvesting can be a complex process with high-tech systems, it can also be a simple barrel with a secure lid. Regardless of which form of catchments you choose to use, switching to rainwater provides many benefits to yourself and the environment.
6. Provides a healthier source of water
Rainwater is a naturally pure source of liquid. As it has not gone through any municipal treatment centers or filters, it remains free of chlorine, pesticides and dissolved minerals. This makes it a very good option especially for individuals on low sodium diets or any one with weak immune systems.
5. Water conservation and reducing water demand
Individuals who use harvested water are playing a part in water conservation, which is one of the most important environmental concerns of today. Although the majority of the Earths surface is covered in water, only 2.5% is fresh water and fit for consumption. Of this, “1.6% of the earth’s fresh water is trapped in glaciers and polar ice, which leaves less than 1% in our lakes, rivers and streams for human consumption”. 2
By harvesting rainwater, you are using less municipal water and thereby, reducing your urban consumption. In turn, you are also reducing water demand by removing one home or part of a home from the urban water plate.
4. Supplement municipal water in time of low availability
Linking to the first point, in times of drought or low water supply, homes that harvest rainwater are able to supplement their regular water source during droughts and low availability or even during storms and power outages.
3. Can be used to divert rainwater to toilet flushing or other functions
Not all homes harvest rainwater for the purpose of drinking and bathing, but luckily there are many other areas in which rainwater can be a useful supplement for municipal water sources. For example, rainwater can be harvested and used for lawns or gardens, agricultural fields as well as flushing toilets or doing laundry. Many people don’t realize how much water these daily activities can take up. In fact, “landscaping, laundry and flushing toilets account for up to 75% or more of fresh water used in the average home”. 3 By switching some of your regular activities to rainwater, you will reduce your urban consumption as well as your carbon footprint.
2. Reduce storm drainage loads
This is perhaps the single most important environmental effect of harvesting rainwater. Since a storm drain lacks a filter, untreated storm water often finds itself in varies bodies of water. This has a huge impact on our environment because some of the most common storm drain pollutants included: motor oil and fuel, litter, paint and paint thinners, household cleaners and fertilizers. All of these pollutants affect wildlife and many of them do not breakdown naturally. So, by reducing storm drainage loads, pollution is declined, thereby reducing the impact to our natural plants, wildlife, rivers, streams and oceans.
1. Save money
The usage of water in your home requires energy, which we pay for. When you reduce the usage of urban water in and around your home, you are also reducing the energy costs associated. In some cases, this means a 35-40% savings on your annual household water bill! If the environmental and health benefits didn’t get you, I am sure this one will!
“All the water that will ever be is, right now.” – National Geographic, October 1993
Now that you are aware of the benefits to rainwater harvesting, I am sure it seems like a much more colorful option then it did before. While switching over might seem like a big change, the benefits far outweigh any negative impact.
There are hundreds of ways that we can save the environment each and every day, but all of them require change in the way we do things and the way we view the world around us. By taking what Mother Nature has given and using it in its most natural form, we are connecting to nature and protecting it for future generations.
Environment911.org is an interactive website for individuals to come and discuss the environment from green business to natural disasters. We feel it is important for people to come together and share their thoughts, ideas and visions for the future. The more we can communicate what is happening in our world, the more people can be educated and the more we can progress. Beyond Environment911.org you can find us on Facebook and Twitter where we are continuing to spread the message about our global environment and the impact that we have on it every day. www.environment911.org