Updated: Sep 27, 2020
By 2071, studies predict that nearly half of the more than 200 freshwater basins in the United States will not be able to meet their monthly water demand.
That’s a terrifying figure. Even if 2071 seems many years away (it’s not - many of us will still be alive, as it’s only 51 years from now), water scarcity is an issue that will likely impact your children and grandchildren alike.
If you’re interested in becoming more self-sufficient - and in improving the seemingly bleak outlook for future generations - you may want to consider rainwater harvesting and storage.
This is a common homesteading practice that is accompanied by all kinds of stigmas and misconceptions - but it shouldn’t be. Here’s what you didn’t know about rainwater harvesting - and a few reasons why you should get started as soon as possible.
There are Many Ways You Can Use Recycled Rainwater
Some people assume that rainwater harvesting can only be used as a method to irrigate gardens or perhaps supply water to livestock. The reality is that rainwater harvesting can be used for just about any of your water needs.
It can be used for drinking and cooking, flushing toilets, bathing, laundry, and more. There are hundreds of potential uses for collected rainwater, no matter what kind of harvesting system you might have.
Rainwater is Just as Potable as Regular Water
Many people (erroneously) believe that rainwater needs to be treated and sterilized in order to be safe for human consumption. That is rarely the case.
There is a small risk of getting some bacteria in the water from roof runoff (mostly due to bird feces). However, most rainwater harvesting and storage systems come with integrated design and building systems that come with their own post-storage filtration panels.
Plus, most rooftop contaminants are organic. Your water is more likely to be contaminated with dirt, dust, twigs, or other organic matter than it is with chemicals. Although that still sounds kind of gross, keep in mind that these contaminants are much easier to remove than chemicals that are found in groundwater.
Remember, groundwater is exposed to all kinds of runoff from roadways, parking lots, industrial facilities, and more. You could have everything from oil to sewage in that water - so rainwater is a much better option, all things considered.
It stores well, too. The beauty of rainwater harvesting is that stored water lasts for quite some time. As long as you have the proper systems in place, you won’t have to worry about odors or algae development, either.
You Don’t Have to Live in a Rainforest - And You Don’t Even Have to Be Home
Unless you live in the middle of the desert, you can almost always get enough rainwater to meet your family’s needs. You don’t need to live in the middle of a rainforest!
If you live east of the Mississippi River, chances are, you’ll get enough rainwater to supply your own home. Even if you live in a more arid climate (one that receives less than 30 inches of water per year), rainwater harvesting is a great way to supplement your current groundwater usage.
There’s a common misconception that rainwater harvesting entails empty buckets held outside to gather rain during the occasional storm. While that’s a humorous depiction, the reality is that modern rainwater harvest systems run independently and don’t need much maintenance or human involvement.
Even if you leave your home for weeks or months on vacation, the water will continue to turn over and be re-oxygenated in your rainwater harvesting system (if you install the proper system with more advanced technology, that is).
Even in a more rudimentary rainwater harvesting system that won’t circulate the water for you, there’s not much you need to do to collect the water. Just sit back and wait for the clouds to roll in!
You Can Still Get Great Water Pressure
If you’re circulating rainwater to be used inside your home, you don’t have to compromise comfort in order to feel good about what you’re doing for the environment. Many modern rainwater harvesting systems come with powerful 1 horsepower pumps that can give you the same level of control over your water pressure as what you would normally enjoy.
No Special Plumbing is Needed
You also don’t need to be a master plumber - or pay a fortune - to set up a rainwater harvesting and storage system. In most cases, you can tie your rainwater harvesting system directly into your household plumbing, with no separate plumbing needed.
Usually, you’ll just have to add a filtration panel and an automatic crossover to a secondary water source (which is generally tied in to a well or municipal water supply). Often, you can rig the system so that your secondary system is only a “back-up” and will only turn on when your rainwater supply is running low.
You Don’t Need a Special Roof
Yet another misconception about rainwater harvesting is that you need to live in a home specifically designed for this unique homesteading activity. That’s not the case! Most roof types work well with rainwater harvesting, including asphalt shingles, tile, ceramic, slate, and tin. The only ones to watch out for are wood or “shake-style” roofs.
It’s Totally Legal
Rainwater harvesting and storage is not only legal in all 50 states - but it’s recommended. There are a few states (namely Colorado and Utah) that have some restrictions on rainwater harvesting. Otherwise, this is a practice that is widely supported and encouraged as a method of stormwater management and eco-friendly living.
Educate Yourself About Rainwater Harvesting and Storage
If you’re thinking about adding a rainwater harvesting and storage system to your home, start doing your research as soon as possible. Whether you want to use rainwater for emergency situations, to set up automatic irrigation systems for your garden, or as a full supply for your home, rainwater supplementation is a great way to reduce water costs and to live more sustainably.
Contact Wildline Solutions for a full list of options. Regulations vary depending on the state, but we can help you figure out the best system for your lifestyle, budget, home, and location. Happy harvesting!