Water is a precious resource that covers 71% of Earth’s surface. It moves continually through the water cycle of becoming a vapour through evaporation and transpiration, transforming into water through to condensation in the Earth’s atmosphere, and then once condensed into water falling back to earth via rain (precipitation).
Rainwater is a pure form of water and an important source of fresh water which is essential to human survival and other forms of life on Earth. If you need fresh water, whether that be for farming purposes, consumption, washing or something other, then harvesting rainwater is one option you can consider. How you capture the rainwater is where a “rainwater harvesting system” comes into play.
Rainwater Harvesting System
Rainwater harvesting systems include the surface area used for collecting rainwater (normally roofs and gutters), pipes and accessories such as rainwater diverters and screens, and then finally a storage area such as a rainwater tank or multiple water tanks.
Each part of your rainwater harvesting system should be properly maintained, especially if using the water for cooking and drinking, then all materials should be safe for use when in contact with food. If being consumed or used in bathrooms then it is also highly recommended that you install proper filtration that includes chlorination to remove any impurities and neutralise harmful bacteria and parasites.
Benefits of Harvesting Rainwater
There are many benefits that harvesting rainwater provides. Besides offering a fresh supply of water that you can drink provided your system is properly maintained, rainwater can also be domestically used to flush toilets, wash clothes, water gardens, wash cars and to top up swimming pools.
Rainwater is also an often important source of water for people who live in rural areas, or for farmers who need water for their agriculture. It is especially important when mains water might be inaccessible, or when other water sources become scarce during dryer times in the year when water might otherwise need to be purchased and transported in.
Harvesting your own rainwater to be used therefore comes with several benefits:
- Meets building regulations – throughout Australian, there are often environmental efficiency targets that one is required to meet when building a new home, for example, BASIX in NSW. Rainwater tanks are often an easy way to meet such regulations.
- Rainwater is free – once you have installed your rainwater harvesting system, then you don’t need to pay to use your rainwater like you do with your mains water supply. This will reduce your bills, especially if you live out on a rural property where you might otherwise need to truck water in.
- Water self-sufficiency – since you are collecting your own water supply, you could largely be independent from your mains water supply which only gets used for topping up. Furthermore, during periods where water restrictions are enacted, you will have greater freedom to use the water that you need.
- Reduces storm water run-off – as areas become more and more built-up, less water seeps into the ground which can cause drainage issues and flooding. Rainwater tanks are forming part of the solution to this. In certain areas some councils actually will require you set aside space in your tank to detain water during storms.
- Greater protection against bushfires – if you live in a bushfire prone area, then you will likely be required to retain a certain amount of rainwater for fighting bushfires. When mains electricity is destroyed by fire, the water sources available to protect your property are often those stored in your rainwater tank or pool.