Tag Archives: rainwater collection system

  • Green Infrastructure Protects Rivers Around the United States

    A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council documents progress around the United States in protecting some of the nation's most polluted rivers and lakes by installing green infrastructure in urban environments. Instead of directing rainwater off streets and rooftops into sewers and storm drains, and ultimately area waterways, green infrastructure captures rainwater where it falls for irrigation and other uses.

    Green Infrastructure Prevents Water Pollution

    This is good news, especially in cities with what's known as combined sewerage overflow systems. In cities such as Syracuse, NY, and Washington, DC, storm drains direct rainwater into the same pipes that carry household sewage to treatment plants. During major rainfalls, the system overflows, raw sewage and all, directly into local rivers.

    Green Infrastructure Relieves Overburdened Sewer Systems

    Green infrastructure prevents overflows with landscaping enhancements such as replacing concrete and blacktop with semi-pervious surfaces to allow rainwater to reach the ground below sidewalks and driveways. It means rooftop gardens and green roofs which capture rainwater and grow plants, which also help clean the urban air and capture climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions. And, it means repurposing rainwater for other uses like landscaping irrigation, rainwater collection systems, and in Syracuse, hockey rink ice.

    Green Infrastructure Example: Syracuse NY

    NRDC's report Rooftops to Rivers II documents green infrastructure practices in a dozen U.S. cities. The video below describes just one city's experience.

    Anyone Can Install Green Infrastructure

    While major projects such as those described by Syracuse NY and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney in the video above are quite large in scale, just about anyone can implement green infrastructure enhancements on their property.

    • A Rainwater collection system is readily available for purchase at home and garden stores or on online. Rain barrels enable homeowners to disconnect one or more of their roof downspouts from the storm water system and use that water for plants and landscaping during dry periods. It can also been used for drinking water as long as you purify the water with a system like a berkey water filter.

    • Even without the barrel, homeowners can plant rain gardens and use rooftop runoff to enhance their yards. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has published a downloadable manual on rain gardens for homeowners.

    • Though requiring professional installation, green roofs are becoming more popular on individual houses.

    • And when renovating driveways and sidewalks there are more and more alternatives to traditional impermeable concrete and asphalt. Innovations such as interlocking concrete tiles provide the ease of traditional driveways while allowing the rainwater through.

    For more information on green infrastructure and how individuals might install it, check out NRDC's report or the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

  • Using a Berkey Filter for Rainwater Collection

    Rainwater collection for drinking is a growing trend in the United States.  Many seem to be experimenting with rainwater collection as part of their own crusade for self sustainability and emergency preparedness.  Others give it a try as an alternative to their main water source and and to take advantage of the potential money savings.  However, in many parts of the US and the world, rainwater collection is the primary and sometimes only source of drinking water.  It's a rather straightforward design you can build yourself, but some basic guidelines should be followed for guaranteed success.  Most importantly, if you'll be drinking your collected rainwater, you must ensure that your water flows through a filtration system.  Fortunately, filtering through a Berkey Filter system or just the Black Berkeys prior to ingestion is a cheap, easy, and effective method that protects you from potential risks.

    Why Collect Rainwater?

    For many who are supplied with water from a well or their local municipality, collecting rainwater may seem like an overkill or simply unnecessary.  But with the always existing threat of a natural disaster, peace of mind is gained by knowing that a backup water source is available in the case of broken municipal feeder pipes or damaged well systems.  In the case of a severe drought, wells and water sources to can completely dry up.  More often than not, when rain does come it is not nearly enough to reactivate these sources.  Rainwater collection may not solve all your water needs when a drought hits, but it can provide critical supply in the rare instances of rain.  Camping or remote living locations that do not have access to a water source are also great candidates for rainwater collection systems.

    Precautions To Consider When Collecting Rainwater

    As water is harvested through a catchment and into the collection system, it will come in contact with surfaces that are unclean. Typical contamination can come from sources such as animal fecal matter(birds, squirrels, etc), roof material chemicals, and other bacteria. To combat this, rainwater collection systems utilize a filtering device to make the water potable.  Systems can either run directly through a filter system into a storage tank, or can be collected in a tank to be filtered at a later date. We have some customers who have built a 2 stage system where a 1st stage 5-10 gallon catchment bucket is modified and equipped with 4 to 8 Black Berkey filter elements that drip filtered water into a lower 55 gallon storage catchment. Even though the Black Berkey elements are water purifiers, customers are advised to add drops of unscented chlorine bleach at the first stage prior to filtration if they suspect high levels of E-Coli contamination.  Creativity works well when designing such systems, and the options to suit many homeowners needs are endless.

    This link may help you generate some ideas on how to build your own rainwater collection system.

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