Why is rainwater recycling important?

Rainwater recycling collects and uses rainwater onsite. This is one of the most efficient ways for a house or business to get access to water. Collected rainwater can be an important source of high-quality water for crops, greenhouses, and other outdoor uses — even in very arid climates.

What is the history of rainwater recycling?

Rainwater recycling has been used for thousands of years. In fact, rainwater recycling systems in the Middle East date to 5,000 years ago. In the U.S., water shortages, quality concerns, and stormwater mitigation have renewed interest in this ancient practice.

Besides the obvious environmental benefits, what other advantages does rainwater recycling offer?

Sustainable recycling of rainwater presents many benefits. For example, rainwater recycling systems diminish the stormwater impact of rain events, decrease the water-energy footprint, and displace the need for an equal amount of highly treated potable utility water.

Water from my utility is very cheap. How does a rainwater recycling business compete with subsidized, inexpensive utility water?

There are many reasons to collect and recycle rainwater: quality of the resource; availability of a secure, onsite water source; and greater nutritional value for crops and gardens. Some successful rainwater recycling businesses are growing because they make Return on Investment arguments to potential clients. Their rationale is based on the current and growing cost of utility water, the value of a rainwater recycling systems relative to other potential investments, the ability to mitigate costly stormwater effects, the quality of rainwater relative to utility water, the relative security of distributed water systems and — for a select few — the altruistic benefits.

How does the quality of rainwater as a resource compare to ground- and surface water used by utilities?

Increasingly, consumers are attracted to rainwater for the quality of the resource. While surface and groundwater suffer from contact with the contaminants that are plentiful in those water sources, rainwater has fewer contaminants to deal with.

Shouldn’t we be conserving water by decreasing the demand before we go to the expense of increasing the supply through rainwater recycling?

Rainwater recycling is about conservation and efficiency. It makes no sense to spend precious funds to augment water supplies if one has not first extracted the greatest benefit from water efficiency and conservation opportunities.

What impact will global warming likely have on the annual rainfall and type of rain event in my region?

The impact of climate change will vary greatly from region to region, but most studies agree that climate change will result in more intense storms, and these storms would result in more water runoff. Rainwater recycling allows us to capture this runoff and put it to a useful purpose.

What are the major components of a rainwater recycling system?

The major components of a rainwater harvesting system are the collection surface, gutters, downspouts, pre-filtration systems or first-flush devices, storage tanks, and distribution systems.

I’m familiar with rain barrels. Can rainwater be harvested on a large scale?

Modern tanks used for residential and commercial applications are available in all sizes and can exceed one million gallons.