Solutions Series: Rainwater Harvesting
Did you know that catching rainwater on your property has double benefits, for both the environment and your pocketbook? Rainwater harvesting has been practiced for over 4,000 years. Rainwater catchment systems collect runoff from rooftops, or other surfaces, and store it for future use. Fog catchment systems collect moisture that drips from elevated objects such as trees or roofs. Catchment systems range in complexity from simple barrels placed beneath downspouts to multi-tank systems with pumps and controls.
Collecting rainwater diverts runoff that would otherwise contribute to erosion, enter into a municipal stormwater system, carrying debris and pollutants that require extensive treatment. These treatment systems are often overstressed and expensive to run, so source point methods to mitigate stormwater, such as rainwater catchment systems, are important contributions to both healthier environments.
In order to use rainwater inside the home (bathrooms, etc.), a city permit is generally required. Outside uses, such as irrigation, do not require permits. Rainwater harvesting can reduce a household’s water bill by 30-50%! (Source: Save the Rain Campaign). For every 100 feet of square surface, catchment systems can collect 60 gallons of water per inch of precipitation (Source: Use Your Roof Guidebook). For those living near the coast, fog catchment systems can provide nearly the same benefit.
- Improves landscape growth
- Reduces flooding and erosion
- Reduces need for chemically-treated water sources
- Increases self-sufficiency
- Saves on your water bill
- American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association
- Build a Simple Barrel
- City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
- Rainwater Harvesting Methods