IN THE NEWS
First Ever US RWH Study Released
New Tank Sizing Calculator
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Chlorination: The Removal
In regulated municipal water systems, the U.S. EPA Surface Water Treatment Rule (2002) requires that a minimum disinfectant residual of 0.2 milligrams per liter (or parts per million) of free chlorine be present where the water enters the distribution system and that it be detectable throughout the distribution system. The role of disinfectants in protecting public water supplies is well documented and undisputed, but the reactions of some disinfectants with some natural materials in water and with other treatment chemicals, and the subsequent formation of unwanted by-products, are of concern. Risk to human health is not clearly documented, but experiments with laboratory animals do raise warningflags and numerous studies suggest the health risks of both chlorine and chlorine by-products to humans. >> more
Taking on Water by Wendy J. Pabich
Taking on Water is an entertaining and insightful book that chronicles the trials and tribulations of a self-proclaimed “water deva” as she strives for more knowledge about her own water usage and initiates conservation measures at home. Anyone who has looked into or consciously adopted a more sustainable lifestyle will appreciate Wendy’s quest for knowledge. While it is true that almost all of us can live more sustainably without making major sacrifices in comfort, learning to do so can be a daunting task. Choices aren’t always straightforward and information isn’t always readily available. It seems that our consumer-oriented society is ill equipped to help us decide between competing alternatives. >> more
Chlorination: The Addition
“Chlorination” involves the addition of chlorine to water for the purpose of eliminating pathogenic (diseasecausing) microorganisms. Chlorination also provides protection against (other) disagreeable tastes and odors, eliminates slime bacteria, mold and algae, removes chemical compounds that inhibit disinfection and helps remove iron and manganese from water. In 1997, the editors of LIFE Magazine stated that the filtration of drinking water plus the use of chlorine are probably the most significant public health advances of the millennium. >> more
A Great Aridness by William deBuys
William deBuys’ A Great Aridness examines the history of drought in the American Southwest while offering a primer on the potential consequences of climate change in the future. The book explores historic droughts and their impact on long-gone civilizations, tells the stories the great rivers of the area, and examines the likely outcome of current and future drought on the major metropolitan areas in the Southwest. >> more
Is Rainwater Harvesting a Good Investment?
Is harvesting rainwater a good investment? We will explore that question in depth in this three-part series, beginning in Part One with a traditional economic payback approach.
The short answer is, yes, rainwater harvesting systems can deliver a good return on investment. In certain areas of the country and the world, catching rainwater for household use is the only cost-effective solution. In locations like central Texas, parts of Northern Mexico, and arid rocky areas where no municipal water system is available and where well drilling can be prohibitively expensive, harvesting rainwater is a smart economic and environmental choice. >> more
Tanks Can Be Beautiful
The award-winning home of Frank Herdman and Alice Temple proves that rainwater catchment tanks can add both beauty and functionality to a home’s design. Frank and Alice fell in love years ago with their Casa Solana Santa Fe neighborhood. They bought a fixer-upper Stamm house with poor natural lighting, low ceilings, and a small, broken-up floor plan and turned it into their dream home with natural lighting and a thoroughly contemporary design. The home was recently awarded the grand prize in the Excellence in Remodeling contest sponsored the Santa Fe Homebuilders’ Association. >> more
Questions To Ask Before You Jump In
A portion of my business is inspecting and repairing systems put in by others. Additionally, as I speak to other installers around the country, I find I am not alone in this respect. A good portion of these malfunctioning systems had design or installation flaws. After the fact, it is impossible to know why these installers made poor decisions, but some fault has to be due to inadequate training. I wondered what questions a consumer should ask of potential RWH design, installation and maintenance professionals.
To that end, I reached out to John Hammerstrom, past President of the American Rainwater Catchment System Association (ARCSA) (www.acrsa.org) to provide his views on the subject. >> more
First Ever US RWH Study Released
First Ever US Rainwater Market Study Published. The report “Rainwater Harvesting in the US: A 2010 Industry Analysis” illustrates the sustained growth of the rainwater harvesting market in recent years, even with the poor economic times. This 50+ page market study collected primary data from a survey of RWH installers throughout key states in the US and also conducted informal interviews with a number of RWH suppliers and key stakeholders to validate the findings. The authors also collected secondary data from the Internet, including the website of HarvestH2o, publicly available information from the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) website, and other associations such as those serving manufacturers and suppliers. >> more
Passive versus Active Rainwater Harvesting
There is wide spread interest in water conservation and specifically in capturing and reusing rainwater in both residential and commercial buildings to reduce costs, reduce the environmental impact of the building and lessen the load on the municipal sewer and stormwater systems in the arid southwest where droughts are a way of life.
Harvesting rainwater from rooftops is one solutions to conserving our precious water, where it can be used instead of municipal drinking water for many non-drinking water (i.e. non-potable) applications (e.g. landscape, toilet flushing) as well as drinking water. There are two general types of rainwater catchment systems - "active" or "passive". Most professionally installed systems incorporate aspects of both to maximize the water conserved. >> more
Rainwater Harvesting System Integrated into Home Design
This rainwater harvesting (RWH) system, with an above-ground, 7,500 gallon (usable) poured-concrete cistern, used for both potable and nonpotable purposes, was designed and constructed in 2001 as an integral part of a new single-family home in Key Largo, Florida. Rain is collected from a 1,700 square-foot white Galvalume roof and gathered in six-inch copper gutters with spash shields at roof valleys for occasional heavy downpours. Copper plumbing is used throughout the house as well. The reported pH of the annual test samples taken from an inside faucet has always been greater than 7, which could be attributed to the concrete tank. That does not explain why there seems to be no substantial copper leached from the gutters, since they are upstream of the tank. It remains for others to determine why the copper levels in the rainwater of this waterfront home are insubstantial. >> more
The Importance of pH
In addition to its effects on biological and chemical processes, the variability of pH affects our decisions in domestic water usage. High-pH water often tastes bitter and may be an indication of the scaling potential of the water. Low-pH water may lead to the dissolution of pipes, particularly copper pipes. The EPA classifies pH under unregulated Secondary Drinking Water Standards and recommends a range between 6.5 and 8.5 pH units. >> more
Drought, What Drought
For those of us paying attention to the weather in Santa Fe, a question increasingly coming up these days is when are we going to see watering restrictions? Especially since this is the driest it has been in a long time. Average precipitation for Santa Fe this time of year is normally 4.81 inches, and so far we have only received 0.67 inches, or 13.9% of average. It is worse for Albuquerque, which has seen only 0.19 inches thus far this year. Most of our state is experiencing a drought, as well as Arizona and Texas. Santa Fe has not seen this little precipitation since records have been kept. We should be extremely concerned about our water situation. >> more
In almost any place in the United States, we simply turn on the faucet and it flows. This amazing infrastructure was built over the last century and has supplied us cheap, plentiful water for decades. Abundant water, cheap electricity and a great road system have been the backbone of our economy over the last century. However, access to cheap, plentiful water is becoming a thing of the past, not only in the Santa Fe area, but around the country and the world. In the United States, we are fortunate to have accessible clean water at any price. Over 46% of the earth’s population doesn’t, and people in developing countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get access to water. One in eight people on the planet lack access to clean water. >> more
Water is Local
Water is easy access and this has created an ideal for communities and local agriculture. In Santa Fe, where I live, on Garcia Street and the surrounding areas used to be farms not long ago. You can still see the sign for the old Gormley's trading goods store on Canyon Road, where local farmers would drop off their produce for folks from all around the area to buy. Of course, this store of bygone times is now a high-end art gallery, and its function has been replaced by the local farmers' markets. Water is local and will remain local. It has been the foundation of the economy for past decades and will continue for decades to come. It cannot be manufactured offshore, nor can it be outsourced. It is our most precious resource and it is the base on which our local economies are built. Even so, for most of us, water remains out of sight and out of mind. >> more
Asphalt to Ecosystems
Asphalt to Ecosystems is a compelling color guidebook for designing and building natural schoolyard environments that enhance childhood learning and play experiences while providing connection with the natural world. With this book, Danks broadens our notion of what a well-designed schoolyard should be, taking readers on a journey from traditional, ordinary grassy fields and asphalt, to explore the vibrant and growing movement to "green" school grounds in the United States and around the world. This book documents exciting green schoolyard examples from almost 150 schools in 11 countries, illustrating that a great many things are possible on school grounds when they are envisioned as outdoor classrooms for hands-on learning and play. >> more
ARCSA 2010 Conference
The Texas capital shares another distinction as the indisputable crossroads of America’s growing rainwater harvesting industry. Austin is where ARCSA was founded and where its 6th annual conference happens next month. Now, with over 700 members worldwide, ARCSA remains dedicated to promoting and educating the public on the safe harvesting and use of rainwater as an alternative for treated drinking water. This year’s gathering features the largest, most jam-packed schedule to date. With keynotes by four internationally acclaimed experts, the conference will host over 40 presentations, many on topics never before addressed, and will include another 30+ exhibition booths with the most innovative and advanced products sure to advance our thriving industry. >> more
One Way To Conserve on the Ranch and Farm
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. >> more
The Tale of Two Cities – Billions Conserved
Albuquerque and Santa Fe have had water conservation programs for well over a decade, and both have been very successful. Yet their approaches to saving this precious resource in the arid Southwest are different. Since 1995, Albuquerque has reduced per capita use by 36%, Santa Fe by 42%. Santa Fe’s water use is now substantially less than the US average, while Albuquerque is likely to fall below the US average soon. Both have made tremendous strides in conserving life-giving water. What lessons can we learn by comparing these cities? >> more
Safe Drinking for All through Solar Disinfection
Every 8 seconds, a child dies from water related disease around the globe. 50% of people in developing countries suffer from one or more water-related diseases. 80% of diseases in the developing countries are caused by contaminated water. Providing safe drinking water to the people has been a major challenge for Governments in developing countries. Conventional technologies used to disinfect water are: ozonation, chlorination and artificial UV radiation. Treatment to control waterborne microbial contaminants by exposure to sunlight in clear vessels that allows the combined germicidal effects of both UV radiation and heat has been developed and put into practice. >> more
Water – Another View
Pumping more water or increasing water transfer from other areas is not going to solve this problem. Increased pumping and transferring water from further locations increases the need for more power generation and this directly translates into more power plants. For those of us who love our amazing vistas and crystal clear blue skies, the solution to our water needs can’t involve polluting our skies. Clearly, we must look to other solutions to solve our water needs. >> more
Rainwater Catchment System Pump Sizing
Pumps are an integral part of almost all rainwater catchment systems; however, sizing a pump correctly is not straightforward and installers often fail to make the appropriate calculations. Much has been written on pumps for irrigation systems and for wells, but rainwater harvesting pumps can be markedly different. This series of articles is aimed at shedding light on the differences and assisting in properly sizing rainwater pumps. This first article will explain pumps and general pumping concepts >> more
Water: Why Care?
I get a lot of blank stares when I start talking about water conservation and rainwater harvesting. Not among the folks who already do it here in Northern New Mexico, but from those who don’t. The typical response is “Why should I care? Water is cheap, and all I have to do is turn on the tap and it flows.” While it’s true that water does flow easily, it is even truer that we have yet to pay the true cost of for this precious resource and that cost will only increase in the years to come. >> more
Washington State Department of Ecology Clarifies Water Rights in Regards to Rainwater Harvesting
To the delight of the green building community and many other Washingtonians throughout the state, the Department of Ecology issued a policy statement issued on October 12th clarifying that water rights are not required for either the use of or the on-site storage of rainwater collected by a rooftop system or a guzzler (Guzzlers are devices used to catch and store rainwater and dew to provide wildlife or livestock with drinking water.) >> more
Potable Rainwater: Filtration and Purification
Rainwater harvesting is viewed by many, including the EPA, as a partial solution to the problems posed by water scarcity: droughts and desertification, erosion from runoff, over-reliance on depleted aquifers, and the costs of new irrigation, diversion, and water treatment facilities.
Harvested rainwater in the U.S. is used mostly for irrigation; however, there is a growing interest in using rainwater for drinking and other indoor uses. Over 50% of household water is used indoors; bringing rain indoors could save the expense and environmental costs of treating and transporting water.
Can rainwater be made safe to drink? Yes. How safe? As safe as your well or tap water. How do you make it safe for indoor use? By filtering and purifying it. >> more
Op Ed: The “Greenest” Roof is White and Metallic
Among the goals of what are called “Green” roofs, vegetated roofs or roof-top gardens are reduced building energy costs and reduced urban-heat islanding. For both goals, white metals roofs are superior, particularly in the “sun belt” where cooling is a year-round task. If needed, the insulating properties of a vegetated roof can generally be provided underneath the roofing layer with radiant barriers or other insulation. But it can also be argued, particularly in the “sun belt,” that excess insulation blocks the advantageous nighttime building-cooling benefit of a metal roof. Insulation aside, this writer believes that the most important disadvantage of a vegetated roof is that it is designed to absorb water that should be collected to meet the needs of the buildings inhabitants. >> more
Ten Strategies to Promote Rainwater Harvesting
In the 1980s and early 90s, most people, especially in urban areas were unaware of what rainwater harvesting (RWH) meant and why there would be a need to collect rainwater. It took an enormous amount of effort working with and speaking to local communities, organizations and state agencies to publicize the need for and benefits of RWH. Based on my experience with RWH during the past 20+ years, I offer the following strategies that can be utilized to promote the technology in your respective state or regions. >> more
American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association and the Dynamics of the US Rainwater Industry
As the United States is being highly affected by the global recession with many industries shrinking in size; one industry is gaining momentum, that being the rainwater industry. Rainwater Catchment Systems in North America are rapidly increasing in popularity. This can be seen through the increase in membership numbers of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) and the increase in the activity through media channels, such as the New York Times, NBC News, National Public Radio and the Associated Press. The critical need for water resources has encouraged educational programs, university extension and research, plus municipal governments to address rainwater harvesting as a viable option to decrease shortages. This has increased businesses related to the rainwater industry and encouraged adoption of rainwater technologies by individuals and commercial enterprises. >> more
Bringing Green Home
Converting a shed to a home office in Santa Fe, N.M., took time, research and planning, but was worth the effort. By investigating products and working closely with the contractor, the 700-square-foot (65-m2) home office now is in business.
This new, old shed, includes a 1,600 gallon rainwater catchment system.>> more
Water Purification Technology: What is "Green" & What is Not
What constitutes sustainable or "green" technology in water purification systems? For a water treatment solution to be considered green, it must meet the criteria of not adding anything to the water and not using any additional water in the process. This article covers green technologies currently available and the contaminants for which green purification technologies are, and are not, an option. In the marketplace, there is an abundance of "greenwashing" of conventional technology and often a failure to disclose all the parameters of a purification system touted as being environmentally responsible. >> more
A Simple Rainwater Harvesting Design
Australia mandates it. In Tucson’s 100-plus degree summer days, one well-known harvester has created a natural cooling and humidity system using it. Earthships and off-the-grid builders need it to survive. What is it?
It is the next renewable revolution: rainwater harvesting. If you ask old-timers and the Native Americans here in New Mexico, they’ll tell you it is nothing new but merely coming to forefront as we take greater care to use our local resources in economical, sustainable ways. >> more
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly side of Roof Runoff
One aspect of green engineering and sustainable design is how man interacts with the hydrologic cycle. This includes how stormwater runoff is managed and whether runoff is viewed as a waste product or an opportunity. Rainwater harvesting is a critical component in integrated urban water management. If rainwater harvesting barrels/collection tanks are widely distributed and used in conjunction with other water-sensitive development practices such as low impact development and/or conservation design, a substantial fraction of runoff can be removed from the drainage system. This, in turn, potentially would reduce sewer overflow events and reduce bacterial and other pollutant concentrations in receiving water bodies more>>
Spring Harvest: Rain Barrel Programs Sprouting Across US & Canada
This spring cities and communities all over the US and Canada are rolling out rain barrel programs. For some communities these are new programs while for others they are part of standard water conservation efforts. more>>
Rainwater Harvesting in the UK - Current Practice and Future Trends
Rainwater harvesting (RWH), where nunoff from roofs and impervious areas is collected and utilised, is receiving renewed attention as an alternative water source. However, there are challenges to overcome in the promotion and implementation of RWH in the UK; it is a relatively unproven technology and there are still many concerns to be assuaged. Nevertheless, the situation is beginning to change with welcome moves coming from the Government, the UKRHA and housing developers themselves, in response to an increasingly challenging water resources situation.>> more
The State of Rainwater Harvesting in the U.S
Rainwater catchment or rainwater harvesting (RWH) are catch-all terms for collecting, storing, and later using precipitation from rock out-crops, roofs, and other surfaces. Across the globe, rainwater is used for many purposes, including drinking water, irrigation, aquaculture, air conditioning, groundwater recharge, and fire fighting. It has been utilized for many centuries.
Harvesting rainwater offers many advantages: it conserves municipal and well water; it is free; gravity fed systems conserve energy; it is low in salts and good for plants; and it can reduce flooding and erosion. Rainwater provides an excellent primary, supplementary, or alternative source of water. In terms of quality, it generally falls between groundwater and surface water. Rainwater can be used at multiple scales from residential to commercial and at the neighborhood or community level. >> more
San Francisco Welcomes the Rain
The ancient practice of rainwater harvest is uncommon in urban areas that have municipal water services. Traditional infrastructure treats rainwater as a nuisance that must be disposed of as quickly as possible. However, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission has set the stage for rain to become an important resource rather than a waste. The city-wide initiative has all the expected features - discounted rain barrels, how-to guides, and workshops – but that’s just the beginning. Public officials have also laid the foundation for rainwater catchment to play a much bigger role in the city. >> more
Good Water Company Just Got Better
Good Water Company, founded in Santa Fe, NM in 1988, is the oldest independent water company in Northern New Mexico. Water conservation was the highest priority in this renovation. All plumbing fixtures were selected for their efficiency including waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and low-flow faucets. Additionally, a rainwater harvesting system was designed and installed to collect rain and snowmelt.
It is the rainwater system that really stands out in the remodel. The most visible aspect of the system is the 20 foot tall, 8,300 gallon galvanized steel tank that dominates the back of the parking lot. But it is only the very tip of the system. >>more
Rainwater Harvesting Regulations
Rainwater Harvesting is exploding and so are the cities, states and other entities involvement with it. This artilce provides a state by state listing of past and current efforts dealing with rainwater and greywater. According to Bob Boulware, P.E., President of Design-Aire Engineering, Inc, Board member and Chair of the committee for ARCSA that is driving these guidelines, the United Nations and countries around the globe are concerned that in the next 10 to 15 years, competition from the increase in the world’s population, along with increased pollution of existing water supplies, will put such a demand on the world’s available fresh water that instability of world governments may occur. This also means that a child starting school today, by the time he graduates from high school, will have trouble finding a clean glass of drinking water. >> more
Pump Systems for Rainwater Catchment
by Verne Wood, CEO of PWS, Inc, Keaau, Hawaii
Understanding how water gets from the catchment tank to the faucet can help people on rainwater catchment systems feel more comfortable with their system and be more self-reliant.
A normal pump system is composed of a pump, a pressure tank, a pressure switch, and a check valve. These main components all work together automatically to supply pressurized water to your point of use.
Catchment pump systems draw water from the tank, pressurize it, and store it in a pressure tank until you need it. There is a one-way valve called a check valve (also called a foot valve) between the water tank and the pump; >> more
Alternative Water Sources
An excellent overview article on the different sources of available water appeared in a recent edition of the Environmental Building News (EBN). The article opens by drawing the case for “alternative sources” due to climate change, growing population and current unsustainable groundwater extractions. It then briefly mentions the need for efficiency and the different uses of water (i.e. potable and nonpotable), but then quickly dives directly into the review of the different sources of “new” water (e.g. graywater, rainwater, air conditioner condensation, mechanical equipment blowdown, treated wastewater, and desalination). >> more
Residential Gutter Sizing
by Doug Pushard
Gutter sizing is an aspect of rainwater collection that has been studied extensively and can be calculated based on published guidelines in the plumbing codes. With water weighing over 8 pounds a gallon, it poses a very real threat to a house and it’s inhabitants. The weight of rainwater standing on a roof has caused many a roof to collapse, so the gutter/drainage system must be capable of draining the roof fast enough so that the structural limits of the roof are not exceeded. To determine system sizing alternatives, know the roof size that is to be drained. In a typical home with two slopes, each side will have gutters and be sized separately. >> more
Harvest Rain - The Movie
review by Doug Pushard
An extremely very well made DVD by The Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation highlights the connection of rain, surface water and groundwater; and how rain can actually heal the land if properly managed. The foundation works to preserve and restore the biodiversity of the borderland region between the United States and Mexico through land protection, habitat restoration and wildlife reintrodion. This beautiful 30-minute movie, is great for all ages, and depicts the changing of the land with the introduction of passive rainwater catchment, not in decades, but in just a few years. It is a powerful and awe inspiring visual testament to the art of passive rainwater harvesting.>>more
Rainwater Harvesting and Rural Development: The CIDECALLI Prototypes
by Femke Love Oldham
This paper details efforts in Mexico to build prototype systems of various sizes that can supply fresh, clean potable water to households, farms and small communities.
The average annual rainfall across the entire national territory of Mexico is 1,500 cubic kilometers of water. With only 3% of this quantity, there is the ability to supply 13 million people and 50 million animals with clean water. Additionally, this small percentage of the total rainfall would irrigate 18 million hectares of crops. The broad and somewhat surprising potential of rain motivated the creation of the International Center for Demonstration and Training in Rainwater Harvesting (CIDECALLI) and the creation of different size prototypes to create solutions for local communities in Mexico. >>more
Making Raingutters Work!
Why gutter protection should be standard on every home.
At HPS we receive a lot of requests for information about gutters and how to best take care of them. Rain gutters are quiet but critical components of a building’s roofing system. They have the important job of capturing rainwater at the roof edge then controlling and directing it away from the structure. Uncontrolled water running off the roof and blowing back onto the exterior surfaces can be damaging in a whole host of expensive ways including: flooding, foundation settlement, soil erosion, dryrot, paint damage, window, door and siding damage. >>more
Conveyance - Simple or Complex
by Doug Pushard
Conveyance, in a rainwater harvesting system (RWH), carries the rain from the roof (i.e. the capture system) to the storage tank (i.e. the holding system). Sounds simple, but it can range from being almost nonexistent to extremely sophisticated and attractive. >> more
by Caigan McKenzie
The following article is an excerpt of an article that appeared in the Fall 2007 edition of On Tap magazine. Cross connections are a critical system component that may be a requirement for anyone installing a rainwater system more >>
by Ed Fenzel
First, you need to identify the types of plants in your garden and their watering requirements. Next, you need to map out the irrigation zones by plant type and function - tree, shrub, groundcover - then note the category - ornamental, native, edible, or container plant. The technical considerations for a drip system are: I) existing pipe size 2) gallons per minute available (also known as your water volume), 3) p.s.i. (pounds per square inch) also known as your water pressure. Under ideal conditions, a 1-inch mainline with 30 p.s.i. and 10 to 12 gallons per minute as your house water source will meet the needs of most homeowners for a drip system. The next, and certainly not the least important, decision is cost. more>>
Local Hero: Water Conservation - To the Extreme
by Doug Pushard
How low can you go? In a third world country it is not uncommon for a person to live on about 5 gallons a day. In the United States the average is closer to 80 gallons a day. In Western Europe, the average is about 60 gallons a day.
A New Mexico family has taken water conservation to a whole new level. >> more
The Capture System
by Doug Pushard
You have decided to invest in a rainwater harvesting system, but where do you start? What questions do you need to answer before you can build the right system to harvest rainwater? Let’s start with learning how much rain you can collect. A good place to start is the capture system. >> more
Harvesting Rain Downunder
by Doug Pushard
Rainwater harvesting is not just a topic of interest in the arid southwest, or even just parts of the United States; it is a topic of worldwide interest. Sally Dominguez, CEO of Rainwaterhog from Sydney, Australia, was recently in the United States promoting her Rainwaterhog product line; and took a few minutes to talk about the differences in the Australian and US rainwater harvesting markets. >> more
First Flush Devices - A Review
by Doug Pushard
What is a First Flush? Is there one perfect type of First Flush device? Where do I put a First Flush on my rainwater catchment system?
First Flush or Rain Diverters, as the name implies, flush off the first water of a storm before it enters the storage tank. This is the water that could be the the most contaminated by particulates, bird droppings, and other materials laying on the roof. Eliminating these contaminants before they enter into your storage and conveyance system is critical to keeping rainwater clean. >>more
On the Verge of Water Scarcity
A call for good governance and human ingenuity
A 2007 paper published by the Stockholm International Water Institute overviews the current state of water around the world and recommends policies that governmental and private water companies should embrace to address our emerging water crisis. This report is excellent reading for anyone concerned about or involved in setting water policies. It is also good news for those involved in rainwater harvesting as rainwater catchment is seen as one of the solutions to water scarcity. >>more
Water: Why Care
by Doug Pushard
I must admit I get a lot of blank stares when I start talking about water conservation and rainwater harvesting. Not among the folks who already do it, but from those who don’t. The typical response is “Why should I care? Water is cheap, and all I have to do is turn on the tap and it flows.” While it’s true that water does flow easily, it is even truer that we have not yet had to pay the true cost for this precious resource. >>more
Rainwater Harvesting - Pumps or Pressure Tanks
by Doug Pushard
If you are building or planning to install a rainwater collection system, water pressure (i.e. water line pressure) is one of the main issues you need to think about. There one several ways to achieve water pressure when you turn on the faucet. If gravity does not work for you, you will need to install a pump and there are several options to consider, some new and some old. >>more
Rainwater Harvesting & Plumbing Codes
Ever wonder why solar panels and solar hot water systems are growing at a much faster rate than Rainwater Harvesting systems. Maybe it is due to standardized electrical codes that provide consistency and training to thousands of electricians across the country; no similar standards exists for rainwater catchment systems.
Read a reprint of Susan R. Ecker excellent article in Plumbing Engineer to get the full picture. >>more
Local Pioneer: Free Rain, Free Watering and Exercise All in One
by Doug Pushard
Always looking to do more with less? Like help the environment and getting exercise at the same time? Well Larry Gilg did, and he found a way: "I hooked a water pump to a bicycle trainer and use it to pump water out of my rainwater system." Watering his yard, totally for FREE and getting exercise at the same time. Read how>>
Rainwater Catchment Systems May be Better than the Big Pipe!
by Doug Pushard
In a recent research project by Brad Crowley, home-based cisterns were compared against the $1.4 billion “Big Pipe” program to upgrade the current Portland, OR combined storm water and sewer system. At stake is a way to reduce the estimated 2.8 billion gallons of raw sewage and stormwater that is dumped annually into the Willamette river.
Is Rainwater Really Safe?
by Doug Pushard
Water quality is an extremely hot topic these days. With continued population growth and strained water supplies it is likely to become even more so. It is estimated that already one in five homes have some type of water filtration or purification system installed. How safe is rainwater compared to alternatives. more>
by Doug Pushard
High Tech, Hands Off Rainwater Collection
Even though our yard is planted with mostly native vegetation adapted to our hot Austin, Texas, climate it requires watering to keep it healthy and lush. We use a drip irrigation system for watering, which is more efficient tha using sprinklers.
Read in the latest edition of Home Power (Home Power 115 October/November 2006) about the exact system I installed in Austin, Texas. The article includes great schematics and links to suppliers.
Going Green is Building
by Doug Pushard
There is a growing focus on controlling energy and monthly costs in homes and commercial buildings. Now, there is new emphasis on controlling water usage. In drier parts of the country, such as the Southwest and parts of the Pacific Northwest, freshwater sources are rapidly diminishing. This dilemma has influenced the building and design industries to create innovative methods of water conservation or so called ”water-cycle management” more>
Drinking Water, Is it Safe?
by Doug Pushard
How safe is your water? The EPA regulates tap water, but how well do they do their job? Read a comprehensive study on the U.S. water supply done by the independent Environmental Working Group. more>
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume I
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 1, is a recently published book by Brad Lancaster. It is a practical guide to holistic rainwater management; featuring not just information on rainwater harvesting, but also covers site planning, water conservation strategies and much, much more. The 181 page manual is jammed packed with examples, stories, data and illustrations.
Before You Harvest - Conserve
by Doug Pushard
Water conservation can pay big dividends. Not only can it save you money every month, it reduces your impact on the planet and can make you feel better. All without a major change in your lifestyle. >> more
Is it Time to Upgrade from Rain Barrels to Tanks?
by Doug Pushard
So, you're catching rainwater into barrels, helping the environment, and saving a bit of money on your monthly water bill as an added bonus. Great idea. >> more
How Safe is Drinking Water from a Tank?
A PDF download written by Australia's John Payne, the founder of Enviro-Friendly Products. The article looks at how safe harvesting rainwater is. Download here >>
Local Pioneer: Jody Drew's Home-Made Water
by Doug Pushard
Have you ever dreamed about living off the grid and enjoying a totally self-sufficient lifestyle in a house you helped build? Jody Drew is living her dream, including rainwater harvesting. more >>
The Willow School: Teaching Sustainability
by Doug Pushard
The first thing that you notice at The Willow School is the closeness of nature to each classroom. Each room has its own door so children can move outside at a moment's notice, and the ample windows draw the outside into the room. Preserving the natural beauty of the area, the grounds design features include many outdoor learning spaces and constructed wetlands for water conservation and filtration of wastewater. more >>
Rain Chains: The Art of Collecting Rainwater by Doug Pushard
Though few would argue that downspouts effectively direct water from the gutter to the collecting tank, would we agree that they add to the aesthetic appeal of a landscape? Probably not. Fortunately, for people who wish to transcend function for form, there is another option. Rain chains ('Kusari doi' in Japanese) offer a highly attractive and unique alternative to traditional downspouts to harvest rainwater. more >>
Local Pioneer: Billy Kniffen - The 2 1/2 Minute Shower Man by Doug Pushard
When Billy Kniffen and his wife, Mary, bought their five acre lot in West Texas in 2003 with the idea of building their log cabin dream home, there was one basic necessity missing: water - no city water access and ground water of questionable quality. Billy gazed up at the sky and the obvious solution sprinkled down on him - harvest rainwater from the sky! more >>
Action Learning at Florida House: A Rainwater Harvesting Case Study by Doug Pushard
The Florida House Learning Center is a demonstration home and yard featuring an environmentally-friendly building along with rainwater harvesting and sustainable landscaping materials and methods. Designed to be a "Model Florida Yard," Florida House showcases the use of native and drought-tolerant plants, xeriscaping, rainwater harvesting, pervious walkways, and other ways to reduce detrimental run-off into Florida's estuaries and bays. more >>
Rainwater Harvesting: Comparing Storage Solutions
by Doug Pushard
Storage tanks, usually the most expensive component of the rainwater harvesting system, come in a wide variety of sizes and types. Here is an overview to help you decide on the type of tank to us, the main factors being the supply of rainwater and your budget. Alternatives covered include: fiberglass,
, below-ground polypropylene
, and wood. more >>
The Secret to Successful Rainwater Harvesting: Floating Filters by Doug Pushard
As the name implies, a floating filter, or extractor, floats in the water in the tank and its sole purpose is to intake water from the calm, clean, rainwater that is in the middle of the tank. more >>
A Benchmark for Zero Water Use in Commercial Building: Melbourne's 60L by Doug Pushard
As the trend toward environmental awareness continues in both the private and public sector, more and more zero and low-impact buildings are being designed and built. Most of these projects are focused primarily on electrical energy usage, with water use as an afterthought. This is especially so for commercial buildings - with one noteable exception: the 60L office building in Melbourne, Australia, which was designed with water efficiency as an integral part of the design. more >>
Local Hero: Hawaii's Guru of Water Catchment - Trisha Macomber by Doug Pushard
If you live in Hawaii, you're lucky. Trisha Macomber at the University of Hawaii is the guru of rain harvesting systems in Hawaii. more >>
Rainwater Harvesting: Explosive Growth Across The US by Trish Donahue and Doug Pushard
There are as many reasons for the growth of rainwater harvesting as there are communities promoting and implementing such programs around the U.S.- from Hawaii to Florida. more >>
Op-Ed: Worldwide Water Conservation Can't Wait
by Doug Pushard and Christian Sarkar
Americans hear a lot about the drought that we are experiencing in the southwest and other parts of the United States, but we rarely hear about dry conditions in other parts of the world and what others are doing about it. more >>
Teach Your Children: Santa Fe Children's Museum
by Doug Pushard
The Santa Fe Children's Museum features a water play set, a water garden, water fountains and an extensive water catchment system. The goal is to teach children about water conservation. more >>
Local Heroes: City of Olympia Water Conservation Program Covers All Bases by Doug Pushard
Why would an area that gets over 50 inches of rain a year, has very mild weather and seemingly ready access to unlimited water need a water conservation program and promote rainwater harvesting? more >>
Rainwater Harvesting in Taos by Doug Pushard
In the Taos area both commercial and private home builders are proactively adopting rain catchment systems, reusing greywater and xeriscaping.
Swales & Berms vs Concrete: Low Tech Solutions for Stormwater Runoff by Doug Pushard
Swales and berms are still used around the world but have been all but forgotten here in the United States as a way to conserve water. Time to take a closer look at this natural alternative to concrete! more >>
Local Hero: Dick Peterson & Austin's Green Building Program
by Doug Pushard
Austin, the capital of Texas, home of the University of Texas and whose unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird”, is the center of the green movement in Texas. One man leads the charge- Dick Peterson, Environmental Program Coordinator at Austin Energy. more>>
Austin's Zilker Park Showcases Rainwater Harvesting by Doug Pushard
Zilker Park, in the heart of downtown Austin, is set to become the prime rainwater harvesting demonstration site for the City of Austin. more>>
The Drying of Nevada: Conservation Key to Future by Joseph Littbarski
Southern Nevada is in the midst of the "ugliest drought" the Colorado River Basin had experienced in 1400 years. more>>
Green Banking: New Mexico's Permaculture Credit Union
by Doug Pushard
The history of financial institutions is one of focus on the bottom line which results in overexploitation of the earth's resources. In New Mexico, however, we found a new kind of financial institution, one dedicated to green banking. more>>
Marking World Water Day, UN to launch Water for Life Decade
by Michael Nettles
To spur efforts by governments and civil society to meet agreed targets on halving the number of people lacking access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, the United Nations is launching the international Water for Life Decade on World Water Day- 22 March, 2005. more>>
Water Activism: Organizations Making a Difference
by Christian Sarkar
It's World Water Day 2005 and what have you done? For those of you who emailed HarvestH20.com asking us about them, here's a list you can use. see also: worldwaterday2005.org and this article: Water scarcity, contamination could become wave of the future.
Oregon School Showcases Demo Rainwater System
by Doug Pushard
The DaVinci Living Water Garden project is a collaboration between DaVinci Arts Middle School and Urban Water Works, a non-profit organization. The goal of the project is to educate students and citizens about storm water runoff and water quality, while also using the arts to celebrate the aesthetic properties of water.
Montana, Idaho Drought to Continue… Could Harvesting Rain Help? by Doug Pushard
Low snowpack levels currently being recorded through the end of January 2005 across shortages North Central Idaho and western Montana could forecast water later again this summer. Here are some resources...
Rainbarrel 101: What is a Rainbarrel?
by Jim Graves
A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams. Includes a downloadable schematic: "How to Build a Rainbarrel"
Designing a High-Tech, Hands-Off Rainwater System
by Doug Pushard
Even though our yard is planted with native vegetation adapted to our hot Austin, Texas, climate, it requires some watering to keep it healthy and lush. We use a drip irrigation system for watering, which is more efficient than using sprinklers, but this small city yard still consumes lots of water during our long, sweltering summers... Here's a step-by-step account of how I built my rainwater harvesting system to beat those hot Texas summers and kept my garden green more>>
Local Heroes: Albuquerque's Aggresive Water Programs Make A Difference
by Steve Miller Albuquerque, a city in the arid Southwestern United States, has grown by 120,000 residents in the last 20 years but consumed less water last year than in any previous year since 1985. Did rainwater harvesting help? Here's how they did it. more>>
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