Last year I was sitting in a parking lot readying myself to dodge the rain and make a mad dash into the store when something caught my eye.
\”By the year 2025, two thirds of the world population may be subject to water scarcity.\” [source]
The automatic sprinkler system was on, dutifully soaking the disposable flowers and microshrubs haphazardly placed by some well meaning landscaper a few weeks prior. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the absurdity of the scene as gallons upon gallons of rainwater were pouring from the roof and being drained directly into the sewer. I’m no rocket surgeon and even I can envision a better way.
Rainwater Catchment is far from a new idea. It has been happening in different ways for at least 4,000 years and nearly any gardener these days will proudly show off their rain barrel and the produce it helps them grow. That begs an important question: If thousands of gardeners can do it, why can’t builders? When will building codes start to require rainwater collection and redistribution systems as part of new construction?
DID YOU KNOW? 1/2” of rain collected from 1,000 square feet of roof space will yield about 300 gallons of water.
If rainwater collection was incorporated as a requirement in the building codes of municipalities across the United States and around the world we could begin to see a shift in the growing fresh water crisis that the majority of people aren’t even aware exists. In our “civilized” societies where we drink named brand tap water from disposable plastic bottles we are blissfully unaware that nearly 20% of the world’s population doesn’t even have access to safe, clean water. [source]
If that number doesn’t bother you enough then let’s look at the simple math long enough to see that after the initial setup, collecting rainwater doesn’t cost anything as opposed to money paid to Public Works Departments. In my mind, paying for something that you can get for free just doesn’t make much sense.
Collected rainwater can be used for everything from watering plants to washing cars, and it can be used even if your area is experiencing drought conditions that make watering restrictions mandatory, such as what happened in the Southeast for several years recently.
If you haven’t got a rain barrel at home yet, why not? They are inexpensive and easy to install as you will see in this short video by my good friend and fellow sustainability evangelist Shawna Coronado:
If you would like to build your own rain barrel, check out these links:
- How to Build a Rain Barrel (PDF) from the City of Portland
- Build Your Own Rainwater Harvesting System (Flash Presentation) from the City of Atlanta