While 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, 97.5% is salt water. Only 2.5% is fresh water, with less than 1% readily available for human consumption. One out of five people in the world are without access to safe drinking water.
We hear about conservation and sustainability, but we need to start moving towards these now. when it comes to water, rainwater harvesting and collection is an effective green solution with many benefits.
Rainwater harvesting is the capture, diversion, and storage of rainwater for a number of different purposes including landscape irrigation, drinking and domestic use, aquifer recharge, and stormwater abatement.
Rainwater harvesting systems can be as simple as a rain barrel for lawn & garden irrigation at the end of a downspout, or as complex as a full residential or commercial potable system.
Gutter and rainwater collection system advantages
-Lower Utility Bills
-Help prevent foundation/structural damage
-Superior for landscape irrigation
Components of a Rainwater Collection System:
-Catchment surface: the collection surface from which rainfall runs off
-Gutters and downspouts: channel water from the roof to the tank
-Leaf screens, first-flush diverters, and roof washers: components which remove debris and dust from the captured rainwater before it goes to the tank
-One or more storage tanks (cisterns)
-Delivery system: gravity-fed or pumped to the end use
-Treatment/purification: For potable systems, filters and other methods to make the water safe to drink
The Lady Bird Johnson WildflowerResearch Center harvests rainwater for irrigation of its native plant landscapes with a 6,000-gallon stone cistern.
The State of Texas offers financial incentives for rainwater harvesting systems. Senate Bill 2 of the 77th Legislature exempts rainwater harvesting equipment from sales tax and allows local governments to exempt rainwater harvesting systems from ad valorem property) taxes.
The City of Austin Water Conservation Department promotes both residential and commercial/industrial rainwater harvesting. The City of Austin sells 75-gallon polyethylene rain barrels to its customers below cost, at $60 each, up to four rain barrels per customer. City of Austin customers who purchase their own rain barrels are eligible for a $30 rebate.(www.ci.austin.tx.us/watercon/rbsales.htm)
For a list of rainwater collection information resources, visit http://realtexasagents.com/live-green-in-austin/green-resources/rainwater-collection-resources/.