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What is Rainwater Harvesting and Why Do it?

NathanHutt

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One of the most prominent issues of concern to the entire global community are the water scarcities that are currently threatening us. Due to the evident climate changes, water shortages are becoming increasingly in number and intensifying. So bearing in mind the lack of fresh water and the vital need of fresh water resources to meet the rapidly growing demands of water, we certainly need all the help we can get.

And so, many of us have found a simple, yet very efficient solution to that issue – rainwater harvesting. Simply put, rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting and more importantly, storing rainwater, which could be later use for all kinds of everyday purposes, like irrigation, doing laundry, toilet flushing and even showering. Furthermore, rainwater is probably the highest quality fresh water source available to us, and if collected and stored properly, it becomes the ideal sustainable source of water for our households.

Besides the environmental sanity of rainwater harvesting, there is also an economical advantage to it. If managed properly, using rainwater could account for up to 85% drop in tap water consumption. Needless to say, that's a lot of money off your water bill. Besides contributing to preserving the environment and saving you money, making your home more water-efficient could potentially make your life a lot easier. In that case I'm referring to the water restrictions that some governments implement as a measure designed to decrease water consumption.

Water restrictions are not an uncommon thing these days, especially in areas with warmer climate. And the dry countries in Africa are not the only ones who suffer. Developed nations, such as the USA and Australia for instance, have also seen their fair share of rigorous water restrictions and regulations. As some of the world's countries with the largest water consumption, we are all responsible for a considerable part of the water resources that are being wasted. So it only makes sense that we take the issue seriously and start managing water with more responsibility. And rainwater harvesting is undeniably the best way for you to do that.

In some areas in Australia, governments are already requiring the installation of rainwater tanks during the construction of new homes. But if you want to install a rainwater collection system in your existing dwelling, no worries, it's also common for government authorities in Australia to provide partial funding to homeowners who want to do so.

As with any piece of technology, rainwater harvesting systems vary considerably. Starting from the most primitive ones – yet quite efficient for the purposes of your household, consisting of a plain barrel placed beneath the downpipes of your house's gutters, to the more complex and sophisticated ones – made of bigger tanks, connected to the house's plumbing system, you definitely have a choice.

How to Make Your Own Rainwater Harvesting System?

In spite of the fact that it looks quite simple, rainwater harvesting also has its quirks that you better know of, if you want your DIY system to function properly and more importantly – safely. So, to begin with, you should be very careful in picking the right location for your rainwater collection tanks. Know that you mustn't place the barrels near septic tanks or utility services. Once you've picked the right location, place the tank under the downspout. Put some kind of a screen or a net on top of the barrel so as to filter out debris, leaves and insects, which might contaminate the water.

Install a spigot about 10 to 15 centimetres above the bottom of the tank and make sure you place an overflow port to control the excess water in the tank. If you have a spare barrel, connect it to the first via the overflow port using a hose or a pipe.

Maintenance is also of utmost importance. To that end, since your roof and gutters are crucial pieces of the rainwater harvesting system, contact some gutter cleaning professionals who will safely inspect and clean the roof and gutters for you. Installing gutter guards would also be of tremendous use, since after the initial clean they'll keep your gutters clean at all times. Also, come up with an annual maintenance schedule for the rain collection tanks. After all, being exposed to the varying weather conditions all year round will result in degradation and as a result, some cracks might appear.

And that's it – the simplest, yet quite efficient way to contribute your share towards preserving the environment, and saving yourself some money in the process. Good luck!


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