Without summertime irrigation, how will you keep your plants watered? What about Rainwater harvesting?

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           Recently I talked about preservation of our water by discussing the Clean Water Act–the very act that requires backflow devices to be tested annually. I am a huge proponent of preventative maintenance, as I’ve mentioned numerous times. This seeps into both my professional and personal life, and at the most convenient times, overlaps both. In the case of rainwater harvesting, I wasn’t a huge advocate since I live in the Pacific Northwest. Afterall, we only get a couple dry months each year. This summer though, our grass was brown and brittle by July 1st.  I simply chose not to water the lawn, specifically because it hadn’t rained at all in June and very little in May—months that we expect rainfall here.  Our wet October and November were forgotten by summertime, and I realized there was potential to use that water I had ignored before. Rainwater harvesting was now a possibility I’m looking to pursue.
        I talked to one of our customers down in California who are looking at installing rainwater harvesting systems for their irrigation customers.  I was intrigued. My initial thought was,

But it never rains in California. 

              I was right… to an extent. It doesn’t rain a lot. However, in San Diego, for example, they get about 12 inches of rain a year. On an average house roof of 1,000 feet, that’s 7,200 gallons. That’s a lot of water! The most efficient way to utilize the harvested rainwater is to delegate it to be used for a specific area–a  small vegetable garden, or for less dry-resistant plants. A tomato plant, on average, needs about 1 gallon of water per week when full grown, and will grow for about 3 or 4 months when mature depending on the variety. (Hotter areas will require more water, and cooler areas, less.) That averages out to about 15 gallons of water per plant for it’s lifetime. Consider what else you could grow with 7,000 gallons of water! The best part? Not only is it sustainable landscaping, it’s free water once you have your harvesting system set up.
             This month, PM Magazine  had an article on rainwater harvest as well–it discusses the reality that rainwater harvesting is absolutely something that is up-and-coming, and isn’t something that is as familiar as traditional plumbing and irrigation.

“Although the main codes and standards developing organizations — IAPMO, ICC, ASPE, etc. — have made great strides in updating plumbing codes with provisions for rainwater harvesting, unfamiliarity with these provisions keeps the industry from growing at a faster pace.” -PM 

 

So where does that leave the interested customer? You have a lot of options–with the most basic tapping into your gutters and saving the water.  However, saving water requires space. We might all want to save the 15,000 gallons of water from a normal sized roof in San Francisco, but…where would you put it? This is where the expense comes in. If you’re dead-set on having a successful rainwater harvesting system, you may want to look into having a specifically constructed above-ground storage system that ties directly into your irrigation system. This could easily run you into the tens of thousands. If you’re more keen on simply saving a few 55-gallon drums of water beside your house throughout the year to dip a watering can into, you’re looking at a couple hundred bucks.  Within the next 10 or 15 years, I project that there will be a lot of options for harvesting rainwater. Brae/Watts Rainwater Technologies. regulatory affairs advisor,  G. Edward Van Giesen, stated in the recent PM article,

“Make no mistake, rainwater collection systems are here to stay and chances are you will be bidding on one soon.”

          Something to keep in mind–If you require water for long periods of time, or for larger spaces, you may still need to irrigate with public water. You’ll want to prevent any harvested rainwater from getting into the city water with a backflow device. Although the water is fresh for plants, it’s not filtered and typically runs off a roof to be collected, so it’s not safe for drinking.

Want to look further into preventative maintenance for your company? At C3, we’re proactive: not reactive. Give us a free try for 60 days. See how we can help you manage your backflow testing business business.

 

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