Rainwater Harvesting is Low Cost Landscape Irrigation


Rainwater HarvestingToday world, in which we need to make more efficient use of resources, harvesting rainwater is a reasonable option for solving some water related issues in both domestic and industrial scale. They are widely used in homes, farms, public buildings such as schools, hospitals, and hotels and many other facilities.

As urban life develops, the need for treated water increases, and so do the costs. In urban water supply systems, all water has to be treated to drinking water quality but only 1% of water consumption is used for drinking. In Ireland, daily water consumption rate per person is 148 litres. However, only 67 litres of this is used for personal hygiene and nutritional consumption. This means that approximately 80 litres of water per person on a daily basis do not need to be high quality. For other purposes such as watering plants, toilet flushing, cleaning or even carwash, rain water harvesting can be a good, cheap, and environment friendly solution.

What is the idea behind rainwater harvesting systems?

It is simply “gathering rain water in a tank” in its traditional meaning. Today, rain harvesting systems are much more efficient with the addition of a couple of elements, such as pressure vessels, pumps and filters.  A typical rainwater harvesting system has the following elements:

  • Water catch surface: this is the main element where water is caught, the starting point of the system.
  • Channels: to transport water from catching surface to storage tank.
  • Filters: these are used to filter particles in rainwater.
  • Pumps and pressure vessels: to pressurise water and keep water pressurised.
  • Water storage tank: this is the tank where ready-to-use water is stored.
  • Piping system: to transport water to the points of consumption.

Although rainwater generally contains less minerals because of the air pollutants that may dissolve in rainwater, harvested rainwater should be further treated if it is intended to be used as drinking water.

How much can you save using rainwater harvesting systems?

The answer to this question depends on where you live, i.e. how much rain falls annually, the area of your water catch surface and your water consumption. However, to make a rough estimation, you can save EUR1 for each square meter of your horizontal water catch surface annually.  Rainwater harvesting systems are considered to have a high payback and they generally pay for themselves in a few years. After that, the more rain means the more you save. On the other hand, if rainwater harvesting becomes more common there will also be a reduction in national costs for water treatment. Thus, it can be concluded that rainwater harvesting contributes to not only individual utility costs but also national treatment costs, which is a cost item for taxpayers. For the time being, average price for public water is less than EUR2 for each cubic meter, but it is estimated that it will increase to Europe average, i.e. approximately EUR4. Studies show that, a saving of EUR154 million could be made from water treatment costs if all Irish household harvested rainwater effectively. These figures explicitly show the potential of rainwater harvesting to contribute to budgets both individually and on a national basis.

Installation and Maintenance of rainwater harvesting systems

Rainwater harvesting systems should be installed by an expert plumber. Systems are designed to occupy minimum space especially in your garden. For this purpose, underground tanks are used. The pipe system is connected to the intended points of use. Pressurizing and pressure maintaining elements in the systems allow you to have constant water pressure in your rainwater pipe system. Rainwater harvesting system elements are made of durable materials and have a simple technical structure. These two features result in minimum maintenance requirements for the overall system. You may only need to clean filters from time to time and maybe some infrequent maintenance may be required for pumps.

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