How Much Water Does A Low Flow Shower Head Use Uses For Harvested Rainwater

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Uses For Harvested Rainwater

One of the most important considerations when designing a rainwater harvesting system is what you intend to do with the water. Almost everything depends on this aspect. This decision affects the size of the tank, the method of delivery, the quality of the water and the total cost of the system. When making this decision, carefully consider the changes that may occur in the future. If there is a chance that the rainwater could one day be used for drinking, then the collection and storage plant components will need to be approved for that use. It is not a good idea to install a system for secondary use and then push it into drinking use. It would be better to add another discrete drinking water system, in this case. If you intend to use any water indoors, it’s probably best to consider the system potable even if you never expect to drink the collected water.

Water efficiency experts who tracked data from three water supply districts over two years concluded that a rainwater collection system, used only for irrigation, which replaces 40% of the water needed for that purpose, would pay for itself in about 4 years . Indoor water conservation techniques including low-flow faucets and showerheads, high-efficiency dual-flush (HET) or ultra-low-flow (ULFT) toilets, water-saving devices, and composting toilets have also been monitored with mixed results. . The bottom line is that integrated systems cost more and take longer to pay off. External use alone has the best return on investment, but lacks versatility. You have to decide what is important to you.

Irrigation and other outdoor uses

Irrigation is among the first things that come to most people’s minds when they think of rain harvesting. It makes a lot of sense not to buy drinking water for irrigation. In fact, there is some evidence that chlorinated water harms the biological health of the soil and thus reduces production. Another outdoor use of water that works well with rain is washing vehicles as it is soft and does not leave scale deposits that damage sensitive finishes and water features such as fountains and ponds that do not benefit from chlorination.

If your water district enforces outside water use restrictions, they do not apply to collected rainwater. Using rainwater does not charge sewers or strain aging infrastructure that is reaching maximum capacity in parts of the country and the world. We can all play a part in extending the time our government agencies have to solve this problem by using less tap water for purposes that don’t require it.

Secondary internal use

Flushing the toilet and washing clothes account for about 40% of indoor water consumption and do not require tap water quality. Again, softness is a plus when dealing with these elements in the home. Less soap is needed to achieve the same level of cleaning, and clothes are not damaged by the deposits created by using hard water. Toilet valves and siphons stay cleaner when soft water is used. A sewer bill is based on consumption, so your water bill is reduced in two ways when rain replaces tap water for secondary indoor use.

Use for drinking

Bathing, cooking, dishwashing, and drinking are considered potable uses in most cities and water districts, and some states restrict the use of harvested rainwater for these purposes, especially when the property is connected to a public water supply. Check your local laws and ordinances before attempting to use drinking rain indoors. If your property is not connected to a public supply, there are several university studies that have been published confirming that rainwater is safe for human consumption if carefully collected and stored. Approximately 30,000 years of human habitation of the planet supports these studies with historical data. Rainwater quality depends on air quality, so there are areas where heavy industrial plants, livestock farming or volcanic activity can create a problem, but these can be countered with proper treatment. If you suspect that something like this is happening in your area, have the water in the tank tested and corrected if necessary.

Rainwater is slightly acidic; in most areas around 6.5 pH on average. This can be mitigated by adding a small amount of USP grade calcium carbonate. The less desirable sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can be used, but it also adds sodium to the water. If you have an unlined concrete cistern, the calcium present in the concrete will lower the pH somewhat. Most people don’t bother adding anything to their water tank and it is very important not to add disinfectants like chlorine unless there is an unusual event that contaminates the water with toxic microbes.

Homeowners have been pulling drowned raccoons out of their cistern without disinfecting the water and have noticed no problem. There is a limit to how much such things can be tolerated, but a minimally maintained cistern develops a healthy biofilm inside that contains a colony of beneficial microbes that control the less desirable ones that enter with every rain or wildlife appearance. However, if rats enter the cistern, they carry a disease-causing microbe in their urine that may need to be dealt with.

For safety, it is recommended that the potable rainwater system use some method of disinfection or purification after the cistern. This can be as simple as a tap-to-use or faucet-mounted device or as complex as a whole-house ultrafilter or UV water treatment unit. The most popular choice is a UV system with a charcoal filter. These units are easy to install and maintain, but it is important to have good water clarity and change the UV bulb once a year to ensure their effectiveness. Ultra filters do a different job, they purify the water by filtering out the microbes, instead of deactivating their DNA and leaving them in the water, but they can’t reproduce like UV. The effect is the same, but the difference is significant for some people. Adding chlorine has multiple effects beyond disinfection such as reacting with other elements that may be present in the water and leaving byproducts that may be harmful. Few homeowners use chlorine for anything other than cleaning cisterns and pipes before first use. This ensures that there is nothing in the system that can grow in the untreated water. After that, adding chlorine should be considered a dramatic measure reserved for drastic circumstances.

A holistic approach

An integrated system that combines potable, secondary, gray and black water recycling is the ultimate in water efficiency and self-reliance. Few such systems exist, but more and more are coming online every day. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Living Building Challenge movements are encouraging more people to rethink the way they choose to live on the planet and the way they interact with society. The integration of all aspects of life, which goes beyond mere survival needs, is considered.

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