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August 2010 Archives

Agriculture and ranching consume a substantial amount of potable and pumped water around the country, and to some extent in Northern New Mexico. In some areas of the US, farms and livestock consume up to 60% of overall water use. This water is usually either clean, highly processed potable water or well water pumped from precious underground aquifers. This is not a great use for this water given that a cheaper, better and proven alternative is readily at hand. Rainwater is FREE and sometimes very plentiful even in the arid southwest; it is no wonder its use is growing for agriculture and for ranching purposes. Not only does using rainwater save processing and/or transporting water; it also saves energy and helps the environment.

A question I occasionally get from readers is, - "Is rainwater good for plants". I must admit I take long pause when I get this question. It is as if we have forgotten that our primary water source is the sky. If it were not for rain we would live in a very parched world. My great aunt caught rainwater for use on her summer garden; it has been a source of water for generations for both crops and livestock. My typical response is, - "Would you pour chlorine on your plants?" (Chlorine is used by most water utility companies to purify water before it arrives at your spigot.)

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A recent article in the New York Times discusses the impact of Solar Flares.  From this article: 

Occasionally, a large solar storm can rain energy down on the earth, overpowering electrical grids. About once a century, a giant pulse can knock out worldwide power systems for months or even years. It's been 90 years since the last super storm, but scientists say we are on the verge of another period of high solar activity.

This isn't science fiction. Though less frequent than large hurricanes, significant storms have hit earth several times over the last 150 years, most notably in 1859 and 1921. Those occurred before the development of the modern power grid; recovering from a storm that size today would cost up to $2 trillion a year for several years.

So why should this impact a decision to get a rainwater system instead of getting a PV system.  Simple - we can live without electricity, but not water.

Moving, processing and treating water is usually the largest expense for a water utility company.  A power outage of any substantial duration will effect the delivery of water.  Almost all water utilities do have power backup systems, but they are intended for short duration events, not days or weeks.

Having your own water storage onsite is critical to weather these coming storms.

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