How rainwater harvesting benefits the environment
Human beings have practiced rainwater collection for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of rainwater harvesting practices dates to about 2000 BCE, though it was likely done far earlier than that. With increasing focus on water conservation and sustainable living, this ancient technique is making a major comeback in the 21st century.
You may not realize it, but rainwater collection has many inherent advantages over using municipal water from your local reservoir. Rainwater is naturally softened, it does not have any added minerals, chemicals or contaminants, and it is pH-neutral. To harvest it, you need only to collect and store it properly, and disinfect it before use.
How Rainwater Collection Systems Work
Harvesting involves the placement of rainwater collection tanks to catch water flowing down off your roof and through your gutters. You can also place rain barrels, rainwater tanks or cisterns out in the open, allowing water to fall right in during a storm. However, you should be careful to store the captured water properly, because even supplies which are intended for use on your lawn or garden must be free of debris and contaminants like bird droppings and organic waste.
Complete rainwater collection systems include both capture and purification devices, which can include first flush diverters, debris removal attachments and gravity filters. The upfront cost associated with a sophisticated rainwater harvesting system can total a significant amount, but considering the sharply reduced water usage it will facilitate, it's an investment that will pay off through future savings.
Purifying Harvested Rainwater
Many people harvest rainwater solely for outdoor use on their lawns or gardens, but systems are available that pipe the collected water into your home for indoor use. When paired with items and appliances like low flow showerheads and energy efficient washing machines, you can drastically reduce your electricity and water consumption.
Decontamination is of much higher importance if you're going to be using the harvested rainwater indoors. Most people choose to treat it using conventional methods, including particle filtration, UV light treatments and chlorination.
Rainwater harvesting makes a lot of sense if you live in a region that has a high rate of precipitation. Not only can it save you a lot of money on your energy bills, but it also takes some of the burden off your municipal water infrastructure and serves the greater good.