The human body is made up of 60% water and the earth is over 70% water, but there is always a need for more water.
Thankfully, we have nature to return the favor.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), harvesting rainwater is considered a solution for water scarcity including droughts and desertification. Over 50% of household water is used indoors, so saving and treating rainwater can provide some critical relief in both your wallet and the environment.
While it can be a great source of water for your household, especially for consumption, the process isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Contamination is the one of the biggest impediments of turning rainwater into drinking water because, if not collected properly, a host of particles or substances can make their way into the rainwater. Consuming rainwater harvested directly from rooftops isn’t a safe option as it can pick up contaminants when being collected.
Here are three systems that can get you on your way to harvesting rainwater safely.
A conveyance system carries rainwater from the roof to a storage tank or a holding system. The conveyance system can be simple or complex, so finding the right solution is key.
The most basic system is a downspout that leads directly to a tank. The downspouts have screens over them to discourage large pieces of debris from entering the tank. Conveyance systems have a faucet at the bottom of each tank and they don’t require pumps or maintenance.
There are a few important factors to consider before installing a conveyance system:
- The location of the tank in relation to the roof
- Determining how many tanks are required — multiple tanks are usually required for each system
- Determining if the tank is far away enough from your property line
If the tank needs to be located farther from the house, the conveyance system can become more complex. A few ways around this potential problem are:
- Funneling rainwater through gutters or pipes to a tank
- Choosing the right material for the gutters (rust-free gutters are ideal)
A drawback of the tank is the risk of a leak, so location of the tank is particularly relevant. Burying the tank is an option, but lower on the list of the best solutions as a pump is needed.
No matter how much screening you do for your system, tanks can still allow some sediment to either stay at the top of the tank or fall to the bottom, so a floating extractor is an apt solution that will pull water from the middle of the tank where there is the least amount of contaminants.
The purpose of water softeners is to filter out and lessen the hardness of water. Measured in grains per gallon (GPG), hardness refers to the amount of dissolved magnesium and calcium in your water. Anything above 3 GPG is considered harmful to the home plumbing, appliances, water heaters, and fixtures. Furthermore, chloramines are a common disinfectant for drinking water, especially in industrial water. Although chloramines are somewhat safe, they can cause hazardous effects if they are in the water for too long.
Rain barrels are an effective solution to collecting rainwater, but there are a few certain precautions that need to be considered.
- Keeping the barrel clean
- Removing overhanging branches
- Clearing any possible leaves or dirt in gutters are key solutions
A tightly-sealed and lightproof barrel is integral to keeping algae from growing and mosquitos from thriving. A diverter or gutter screens will prevent the first flush of rainwater from the roof.
The first flush carries the most amount of contaminants, so it is imperative to keep the rainwater clean. Once the rainwater has been collected, emergency use will require boiling the water. If you’re unable to boil, filtering it is the next step.
Basin Water Solutions provides a bevy of services that can help filter your rainwater. Reverse osmosis, for example, is accomplished by getting water through a semipermeable membrane and can remove impurities such as chloramine, chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, nitrates and sulfates.
The final stage to an effective rainwater filtration system is ultraviolet light, which has several benefits compared to the other solutions discussed.
No chemicals or disinfectants are needed and it’s also a speedy process while being very cost effective. Ultraviolet light systems are easy to maintain, but they aren’t without their flaws. Unfortunately, they don’t remove certain types of contaminants such as non-living organisms.
The efficiency of UV light is measured by a host of components. In order to get the most out of UV light, filtration of the rainwater before it gets to the UV setup is pivotal.
Ultraviolet light works by essentially killing viruses and bacteria. The light is absorbed by these contaminants and it eliminates their ability to replicate. There are two classes of UV light: A and B. Class A UV light is the one that will cleanse water with the correct intensity, while Class B is only for already treated water. Class A UV light’s intensity is determined by the strength of the light, the distance the light travels through the water and the speed the water travels past the light.
A certain amount of upkeep is required to keep the UV light system running without issues. Changing the prefilter and bulbs on a consistent basis is imperative. If the bulb is shining at its brightest, it can’t achieve the intensity required to be a Class A UV light. Lastly, the sleeve the bulb is in can attract certain particles and algae, so wiping down the bulb and the sleeve with a soft cloth is key.
If a UV light system sounds too complicated, let Basin Water Solutions install a whole house water filtration system in your house to save you the headache and give you the peace of mind that you’re drinking clean, safe water. Basin Water Solutions also provides several other water treatments to help you get the best out of your water.