June 22, 2016 poor woman in search of water

How to reap the benefits of rainwater harvesting system in times of drought!

What does rainwater harvesting system have to do with me?

Rainwater Harvesting System:

True to the principle that “We” actually means everyone except me, we all tend to skip our social responsibilities. Don’t tell me you are not tempted to skip this blog post? Water conservation, harvesting and recycling might seem like a  good thing to do sometime in the future when we have no more pressing concerns. And drought, scarcity and water crisis might be things that happen to other people. But the future is going to catch up with us real soon. We need to sit up and take notice before it stares us down the barrel. Are you still skeptical? Here are some sobering stats that will gnaw at your conscience the next time you leave your water tap on. (I know they did mine!)

dire-statistics-water
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We tend to neglect large problems in general because they are too big for us to worry alone. Besides Nobody does what Everybody is supposed to do right? (Remember that story?)  And something like water which has always been around and its going to be there for ever Right?

water-sanitation-info
Image courtesy of https://thewaterproject.org

Water is free. We need it. We use it! We cant live without it. Frittering away this valuable resource don’t we feel that we owe something to our environment which has sustained our profligacy for generations. It may not be able to do so much longer.

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water-shortage-map
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Water may be free but it isn’t an unlimited resource! 

We  no longer have the luxury of taking the abundant water resources for granted. Unless we prefer to face a water shortage of catastrophic proportions with scant preparations. And no this is not the time when we can push the buck to our government, or NGOs or other people with nothing better to do. We have to take the initiative as individuals, communities and society. The focus should be on innovative, sustainable and grassroots solutions. As you will see in the next section, quite a few people have been using Rainwater Harvesting System. What is the need of the hour is to scale up the efforts into a massive push for fully utilizing its potential.

All water is rainwater.

All water was once made up of clouds. But after it rained it quickly seeped into the surface where it attracted and accumulated various salts, minerals as well as pesticides and poisonous chemicals. Not all of the water that has thus percolated underground can be used. Either you need a lot of infrastructure or energy to bring this water up or you need expensive treatments to make it fit for use. The trick is to trap the water before it hits the surface as it falls. Since rainwater is typically pure and soft water, you can use it for all purposes like drinking, washing, cooking or even industrial uses. Hence there is a tacit advantage to rainwater harvesting system.

cistern of Rainwater Harvesting System
Image courtesy of http://www.sargwatersolutions.com/

Not only does Rainwater Harvesting system benefit environment it is also the most cost effective and energy efficient way of collecting and storing potable water. Rainwater is  a viable supplementary source of water supply in areas with long duration of dry spells, intermittent water supply or during drought conditions.It helps prevent soil erosion, reduces the dependency on ground water aquifers. Another advantage of Rainwater Harvesting System is that it reduces the pressure on storm water drainage. Besides being clean and chlorine free the soft water prevents corrosion of plumbing fixtures in households as well.

Catchment Area

Using the roof of a building as catchment area for rain water is one of the methods of Rainwater Harvesting system. Since the roof is the most exposed area it can be used to collect the rainwater during storm. Using a system of pipes and gutters convey the collected water to a storage tank or cistern. Intermediately there may be filtration and  purification systems in place as well. The ideal roofing material can be galvanized steel or stainless steel. It is advisable to avoid using material that has any traces of lead or other poisonous chemicals.

Even though the Rainwater is free of all pollutants, bird droppings, leaves, insects and soot particles may accumulate and mingle with your potable water. To avoid this you can either design or purchase various systems like  roof washer or add strainers or sieves. Affixing a lid on the cistern is also a good idea to prevent evaporation of the water and algae or other fungal growth. Installing a system of PVC pipes to drain the first intake of rainwater will ensure  that the rainwater collected is uncontaminated. The cistern should have an overflow pipe as well so that it can drain off excess water.

A modern Rainwater Harvesting System

 

Importance of Rainwater Harvesting System Calculator

How to build your own Rainwater Harvesting System 

Whether you build a rudimentary apparatus or go for a more sophisticated Rainwater Harvesting Plant. What is of utmost importance even before  you begin is planning the size and capacity of your system. That depends on the average rainfall expected, the per-capita consumption, number of persons, the catchment area and the collection efficiency. Though it is a complex formula involving many variables, you may wish to study it at length at http://rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu/calculators/. They even offer an excel based calculator for your convenience. As a thumb rule 24cm of Rainfall is a must for any Rainwater Harvesting System to be viable.

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In conclusion Rainwater Harvesting System is a bulwark against water scarcity

From the statistics I quoted earlier the conclusion is unmistakable that the Water Crisis is set to exacerbate in the times to come and the World Bank even foresees that future wars may be fought over control of water sources. One never knows what the future holds and it may indeed be a wise step to invest in Rainwater Harvesting System as a sustainable second source of water if not the primary one!

Read more about conserving rainwater

In the future, wars will be fought over water
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Will you do your bit?

There is nothing here that we cannot do ourselves. We don’t have to wait for government to shake off its apathy, this project does not require lots of capital outlay and the technology required can range from rudimentary to hi-tech. So per se there are no more excuses to take refuge in. We owe it to ourselves so that we can look forward to leading better lives. Whats more we cannot waste valuable water while others foot the bill. So we should  take up the responsibility and start harvesting water and put it to better use lest it trickles back into sewage and is lost for ever. Send us your comments, experiences while setting up your own Rainwater Harvesting System and pictures too. Maybe you can inspire someone with your story!

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