In times of drought—and all the time in dry climates—water conservation is an important part of any sustainable building design. OTechnology designs feature central rainwater collection for storage in optional cisterns that are protected from debris and insects. Collecting rainwater for outdoor use is our focus. Besides the environmental benefits of preventing (or lessening) the damages from floods, run-off, and pollution, you can use stored rainwater to water your shrubs, trees, and lawn—even if your community has a water ban during drought conditions, since rainwater falls even in dry times.
And rainwater is great for plants, because it’s free of chlorine and other chemicals that are included in municipal water supplies. Harvested rainwater will help you have the healthiest plants possible, from roses to home-grown tomatoes.
Rainwater collection systems are also great for the environment, because they reduce pollution from water run-off. When it rains on our roofs, the water travels down our gutters and runs off our driveways or lawns before it’s absorbed into the ground. And often our downspouts drain directly into the street. What a waste! In these situations the water carries fertilizers from our lawns and oils from our driveways and streets into our waterways causing water pollution. And this problem is getting worse with urban sprawl. By capturing rainwater and releasing it slowly, the water is returned to the environment at the rate that nature intended.
Health and / or Social Benefits
Much of our water use is hidden. Think about what you had for lunch. A hamburger, for example, requires water to raise wheat for the bun, to grow hay and corn to feed the cattle, and to process the bread and beef. Together with french fries and a soft drink, this all-American meal uses about 1,500 gallons of water–enough to fill a small swimming pool. How about your clothes? To grow cotton for a pair of jeans takes about 400 gallons. A shirt requires about 400 gallons. To produce the amount of finished steel needed to build a car requires about 30,000 gallons of water. Similarly, the steel in a 30-pound bicycle requires 480 gallons. While industry can do its part to be water-efficient, each homeowner can also help conserve water—especially the rainwater that falls on our homes for free.
Another added benefit to having a rainwater harvesting system is that you’ll have an additional outdoor faucet, maybe in an area that you didn’t have before, all at a low cost. No pumps, extra pipes or electrical bills associated with pumping or installing extra outdoor pipes. Rainwater harvesting systems can also help relieve poor drainage areas so you don’t have to pump extra water out of a flooded area at an extra cost. Harvesting rainwater can also save you money on your water bill.