What to do about rainwater

Shutterstock.com/ Anna Nikonorova
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One of the biggest issues for any town or city council is how to manage the water supply and it is a concern for homeowners and renters too. The water supply does not simply mean how you ensure you are getting enough water into your home each day (although this is a considerable issue for those in hotter climates). Water supply also means ensuring you are keeping that water supply clean and that it is not being contaminated. Let’s assume for this article that we are in a country where there is plenty of rainfall. This presents both solutions and problems. Read on to find out more.

Rainwater seems like the best solution to all of life’s water problems. There is literally free water falling from the sky. Why can’t we simply take this and use it for our water needs? Well, it just isn’t so simple. While we have all opened our mouths and faced them towards the sky on a hot day during a sun shower this is not an acceptable or practical method of water collection. Most rainwater hits our roof, our driveway, and our garden. The rainwater that hits our garden is perfect, it is already doing a good job by watering our plants and grass so there is nothing we need to do there. The rainwater hitting our roof and driveway is going to waste. These are surfaces that we need to collect the water from.

One of the most common ways of doing this is by capturing the rainwater in a drainpipe and having it run down and into a barrel. This is a great way to capture rainwater and there are other systems available or that you can build that will allow you to do this from your drive or patio as well. Now that you are collecting rainwater you need to understand how useful it really is.

Rainwater comes from the sky and therefore must be totally clean and healthy. In theory yes but in practice no. That rainwater hits your roof or your patio and it captures so many bad bacteria in this process that when it finally sits in your barrel it is far from healthy. This means that normal excess rainwater is bad for you and should not be used for drinking, it is bad for your plants and crops and should not be repurposed for them and it is simply unsafe. As rain droplets fall they collect dust and airborne particles so even that stuff you are catching right from the sky in your mouth may not be that clean but the excess runoff that washes down your roof and catches some dead bugs, some leaves, and bird feces are especially unclean.

This is a huge problem for most councils as if there is excess rainwater it will carry all of these nasty things into the sewage system causing it to overflow and it may end up into local bodies of water. Actually, most experts say there is no maybe, this is where it will end up. To help with this issue local councils ask that we avoid using water outside as much as possible, ensure our trash is firmly locked and secured, dispose of our pet’s waste in a conscious way, and look after our cars to ensure there are no oil leaks draining into the sewage system. From a home perspective if you want to use that water that you are catching you need to filter it and treat it. For every gallon of water, you should have a small amount (perhaps one-eighth of a teaspoon) of bleach included. This water will then be good for your plants.

Rainwater is both the solution and the problem when it comes to water supply issues. If we plan properly and are a little more thoughtful in our day to day lives we can save the environment with rainwater. 

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