The future of water is becoming very personal!  We are asked to be considerate of watersheds, encouraged to conserve tap water, mandated to prevent stormwater damage, save a river. Can anything be more personal?

What happened to, “We pay taxes and our needs are met?” Whence these concerns? What happened to the omnipresent American system of cheap, safe, unlimited water?

What happened is that fresh water, primary to all human life, is being consumed at vastly greater rates than population increase. Worldwide – six times faster than population growth. Of water, as Will Rogers observed of land, “They aren’t making any more of it.”

We at Rainwater Resources™ believe the future of water is already upon us. We also believe personal choices are recommended when the superiority of American tap water delivery is jeopardized by disintegrating infrastructure and potentially unreliable sources. Nor should we ignore the increasing pace of jurisdictional conflict over water such as Georgia seeking to correct its historic boundary with Tennessee in order to draw from the Tennessee River.

Contributing to our thinking are these considerations:

 

Energy Efficiency

The biggest users of power in the United States are central utilities moving water to and from processing to us. Why then do we water the yard, or flush our toilets, with drinking water? We believe water from our rooftops, used on our own property is undeniably energy efficient. The future of water includes onsite rainwater harvesting for use at homes and businesses. We are doing this today using no power other than gravity. Where electric pumps are required small amounts of electricity power them, sometimes from onsite solar power.

 

Health

Rainwater falls on our roofs from nature’s perfect distillery free from chemicals. Potable rainwater, disinfected with ultraviolet light rather than chemicals, is easy on skin, hair, fibers, allergies and all that is precious to us.

 

Regulatory Expense

Arriving in 2014 is a federally mandated personal responsibility for prevention of stormwater contamination of watersheds.  A part of the Clean Water Act, MS4-Phase II requires a stormwater control plan for any new development of over one (1) acre. Very personal for many of us.

We believe stormwater control and mitigation begins at the rooftop. Including rainwater harvesting in stormwater planning converts a problem to a benefit. It complies with MS4, it is encouraged by the EPA, and can directly reduce assessments and fees in some jurisdictions and receive a direct tax rebate in others.

 

Irrigation

Seventy percent (70%) of the fresh water used in the world is consumed by irrigation. In most cities, sewage charges are directly proportional to the metered use of potable water. There is no distinction between irrigation and potable use.  Sewage charges are soaring because rebuilding America’s sewage and stormwater infrastructure is costing billions.

Meters dedicated to domestic irrigation use are available but pricey. In Atlanta, the installation fee for a homeowner irrigation meter is $1,800 up from $300 two years ago. On top of this is the cost of public water in Atlanta, the highest rates in the US. During a recent drought, public water, at any price, was rationed.

Something we have learned about rainwater used for irrigation is that its natural nitrogen content encourages the creation of plant rhizomes, the wispy fibers on plant roots by which nutrition is taken up. We have spoken to farmers who tell us plants irrigated with rainwater are twice as productive as those grown with chlorine treated water.

Our rainwater harvesting systems dedicated to irrigation are simple, low maintenance and cost-effective. Cost-effectiveness rises with every bump in municipal rates. Though we design them to accept a public meter, no jurisdiction in our service area is metering rainwater collection. The water is free!

 

Political Will

Water is the primary medium through which climate impacts people. Water is not substitutable. There is a direct correlation between public health and water. American’s consider clean water a fundamental human right and unlikely to accept less in quality and quantity though diminishment of both are already present. It is doubtful politics will be able to avoid a fundamental change in how public water is allocated and delivered in the US in order to adapt to reality. Take Atlanta as an example. A major political concession by Atlanta to the future of water was in response to its recent drought. Atlanta intends to reduce its use of municipal water 20% in the next seven years. How will they do that and continue to grow? Rainwater harvesting by homeowners and businesses! This is to be a major contributor, a new non-municipal supply. The future of water in Atlanta means:

  • The government has “pushed down”  some responsibility to its citizens for providing for their own water needs.
  • The “push down” is creating a decentralized source of water used in homes and businesses. Water is captured and used onsite.
  • The “push down” means that through rainwater harvesting part of Atlanta’s stormwater control goals will be met directly by citizens, not the government.
  • Atlanta’s “push down” to the citizen is encouraged and incentivized.
  1. Codes created to protect the 160-year-old central water processing model are rewritten to permit rainwater use inside the home.
  2. Reduced plumbing permit fees encourage the use of rainwater for toilet flushing and laundry.
  3. The State of Georgia will rebate up to $2,500 on the cost of installing a rainwater harvesting system.

These are major changes, all done in the interest of reducing reliance on what was once immutable, the centralized public water model.

The Future of Water is already here. We believe that as goes Atlanta, eventually will go the USA. And in Atlanta it is government policy to meet its needs through substantial rainwater harvesting.

Our honor and privilege at Rainwater Resources™ is to be a first mover in bringing the opportunity for a personal choice of water supply to you.
Vince Guarino | 6.7.2013