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Getting the most out of gray (grey) water and rainwater harvesting

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Water Harvesting – it’s more than just Rain

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This blog is about extending the concept of water harvesting from simply rainwater harvesting, to harvesting all the water across the home.

Rainwater is extremely valuable, especially as water utilities start raising the price of water to cope with infrastructure upgrades required now, not just the future.

Relying on rainwater alone to help reduce water consumption in the home is risky business (unless you live a cool, moist environment). Over 60% of water use in the average American home is in the garden, and rainwater collection (and storage) can help supply this water.

However if you live in an area that has rainfall for 6 months of the year, and dry for the remaining six months, relying on a rainwater harvesting system can be very expensive.

Lets say your garden area requires 3,000 gallons of water per month for irrigation. Lets assume you have a six month dry period (It could be worse – San Diego has a 9 month dry period).

To ensure garden water supply from rainwater harvesting alone, the tank / cistern would need 6 x 3,000 gallons, or 18,000 gallons capacity.  Apart from the expense involved (many thousands of $$), tanks / cisterns this size require a huge area, and land is expensive.

So the purpose of this blog is to explore the many different methods of water harvesting, such as rainwater harvesting, graywater (also know as gray water, greywater and grey water) re-use, reclaimed water, alternate water supplies; and most importantly place these methods into the appropriate context.

I promise to be straightforward and forthright in this blog. Water politics is not just confined to America, it is a world-wide phenomenon.

Water is a vital resource, second only to air, and as a result is big money. Vested interests include (but aren’t limited to):

– Water Utilities / purveyors
– Water fixture manufacturers
– Water treatment manufacturers and irrigators
– Water re-use designers and manufacturers (be kind – I am one of these!)
– Environmental quality jurisdictions
– Federal / State / City / Country code officials, planning consultants, and inspectors
– Plumbers / irrigators / landscapers

– and the most important stake holder of all; YOU.

I now have over 7 years of water re-use experience in Australia, and 2 years experience here in the US – at local, state and federal levels. Based on what I have learnt so far, the challenges facing America far outweigh those experienced in Australia.

The water / money relationship is much bigger in the US, and the stakeholders above all recognise the issues are serious, they just havent worked out how to work together on it yet. It is likely they will not come to agreement willingly, after all money is involved.

In the end, YOU, the consumer of water will ultimately drive how water is delivered to your home, how much you will pay for it, how you will use it (and re-use it, hopefully over and over again). You may not have control over how much you pay per gallon for water supply and sewerage disposal, but you will be able to control how much you potable water you consume.

Of even more concern to the regulators, is that YOU also decide whether to adhere to codes after the house is built, and they know code violations are everywhere. A pragmatic approach would be to develop codes that were sensible to the typical consumer, or change core infrastructure to cope with code violations.

In future posts, I will provide examples of how pragmatic solutions are rarely, if ever, found in the water regulation industry.

This primary focus of this blog is to raise awareness of what can be done, and what the impediments are.  But it would be stupid of me not to promote two of my websites:

To read more about rainwater harvesting vs graywater go to: http://www.besthomewatersavers.com/pages/Rainwater-Guide.html

Written by Waterharvesting

June 12, 2010 at 7:40 am