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Rainwater harvesting is not a new concept. There is archaeological evidence that rainwater harvesting dates as far back as 6,000 years ago in China.

Today, there are improvements in technology to capture, filter, store and use rainwater.

The primary drivers for doing so are becoming more prevalent:

  • Limited or poor quality, water supplies

  • Areas where wells offer poor yields

  • Cost of water and energy consumed to move water (e.g., more than 20% percent of all energy in California is consumed conveying, storing, distributing and discharging water)

  • Storm water run off reduction. There are national, regional and local mandates to reduce run off which stress municipal wastewater treatment systems due to age, lack of maintenance and population growth

  • Green building trends. LEED and Passivehaus ratings, as well as government stimulus dollars promote rainwater harvesting as a sustainable way to reduce potable water use

  • Periods of drought raise the awareness of the need to conserve and increase the desire to have on site storage

The potential for rainwater collection is tremendous. For every 1,000 square feet of rooftop, you can potentially collect 623 gallons of rainwater for every inch of rain that falls.

In Flagstaff, Ariz., which receives an average of 23 inches of rain per year, a home with a 1,000 square foot roof could collect 14,329 gallons of water annually.

In a residential setting, that water can be used for:

  • Irrigation

  • Wash-down

  • Toilet flushing

In an industrial setting, the water can be used for:

  • Industrial processes

  • Fire stations and emergency services

  • Agricultural nurseries and garden centers

  • Any place where large quantities of non-potable water are frequently used

As the price of potable water becomes less subsidized and water bills go up, rainwater harvesting is beginning to reach the economic tipping point.

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