When I was eight years old my teacher had an indoor garden near the back of our classroom next to a very large window. Mrs. Cozad was attempting to grow some lima beans, and teach us how the stems will always grow toward the light regardless of its position. The reason this memory has stuck with me is because Mrs. Cozad was using water she had collected from rainfall to water her entire garden inside, which I found fascinating. All she was doing was using water collected from barrels that she had painted and placed outside during the week.
It occurred to me that there could be a lot of other ways to utilize this free resource of rainwater. My initial ideas seemed silly at the time, but now show clear signs that I had sustainability on my mind. I saw this Rainwater Harvesting System(RHS) that my teacher had created would then go on to be used for various asks; washing windows, cleaning clothes, grooming pets, hand rinsing, using for toilet water, car washes, and as a general backup water supply to the classroom.
This memory has inspired me to look at advantages of recycling rainwater here in the U.S and in a few other countries. We will be looking at three different regions where studies were conducted relating some of the effects related to RHS. In the world today, these Rainwater Harvesting Systems(RHS) could become more popular as water scarcity becomes a greater issue.
There are some countries, particularly developing countries that have a greater need of water than there is supply.
Some countries or regions are being met with drought problems that are more substantial than they have been in the past. Utilizing a RHS to store water for later use could help alleviate some of the stress of this problem. A study presented at the Water and Sanitation in International Development and Disaster Relief reported that some levels of collected rainwater could be suitable for drinking water after minimal treatment efforts. The collected rainwater could also be used as a water source for different types of agriculture or an assortment of household water dependent services.
There are locations geographically that would benefit more than others from RHS, especially locals trying to maintain a sustainable environment. The MCO airport in Orlando, Fl received nearly 127 cm of rain last year compared to 30cm. in Duluth, Mn. Climate data in the EU suggest RHS would also be better in some places than others. Like Milan which gets 101.3 cm of annual rainfall and London which gets 62.1cm Assuming that both locations used similar efforts of efficiency for the RHS. A study done in India tells a different tale; there was simply not enough water supply provided by the average rainfall to make a significant contribution to the communities water storage and utility system. Not only was the rainwater limited at times, but also retained a certain amount of unreliability. Predicting which days to expect water and plan accordingly could prove to be challenging to the populace regardless of their way of life. Water is so scare in some parts of India that the demand for water will always be greater than the supply that rainwater can supply. This lack of water combined with the lack of information about any type of runoff that could and probably is happening are very strong deterrents to entry. Proper storage and how efficient these storage devices are is also a barrier. A study in the journal of Water and Health that was conducted in The Netherlands also contributed valuable insight in RHS. The article claimed that RHS are on the rise around the world, and that with this innovation it is important to take notice of water storage systems. As you have more people practicing this technique locally, specifically cited in The Netherlands, you have more cases where the storage area containing the water became contaminated with bacteria. The water in these areas was nearly unusable without treatment. Another study that took place in Jordan concerning the profitability of RHS was reported in the Water and Environment journal. In Jordan there is a scarcity of water, where the demand for water is far greater than the supply available. In this study, a significant amount of water was collected through an RHS system which resulted in savings for portable water ranging from 5% to 20% in certain areas. These savings were calculated after and including initial investments for the RHS that were used to gather the water as well as record the data. Most long term beneficial systems have a high investment that presents as a barrier, so it is important to keep this initial cost as low as possible and keep incentives high. In some communities where an RHS system was used in a multifamily residence building, the savings were even greater. This could be an option to scale up in future developments.
There are a number of drawbacks to RHSs: They are dependent on the system in which they are designed for, and places that do not receive very much rain would not have very fueled RHS. These are real issues that need to be worked on further. Perhaps more efficient systems could make good use of smaller amounts of rainwater, but that remains to be uncovered. However it is easy to calculate the anticipated rainfall for an area, and therefore calculate the expected harvested water. Therefore making choosing the location for specifically climate chosen regions for specifically designed RHS. For instance last year MCO airp port had an average of 50 inches of rain. Florida is one of the rainier states, having a more tropical climate. RHSs would be very reliable here because of all of our rain. The populace would just need to be well informed on the storage of rainwater and precautions to take. Public health falls under governmental jurisdiction, so they can do the fun the do’s and don’t’s. There are a number of advantages and incentives for taking action in RHSs. Rain water wont scale up or corrode whatever you use it with. Sometimes well water can be difficult to deal with because of the calcium buildup it causes. By collecting excess rainwater RHSs aid in the distribution of storm water runoff. This mitigation of runoff can reduce erosion on the surrounding environment, or even shifts in sidewalk concrete. RHS are a relatively cheap, innovative way of achieving sustainability though a natural resouce.