In Australia, drought and water conservation are of constant concern. We are a dry continent; in fact, we’re the driest inhabited continent on Earth. Every drop of water is precious, and investing in rainwater harvesting is of benefit to both individual households and our nation as a whole.
Rainwater harvesting simply means the collection of rainwater for reuse, instead of allowing it to run off into the ground. The rainwater collected has a myriad of uses; gardening, irrigation, water features, livestock, washing, bathing and heating.
With minimal treatment, rainwater can also be used as drinking water and is just as safe as the water that comes out of your tap. Just as solar power provides free energy, rainwater harvesting provides free water. Not only will it reduce your utility bill, but it also increases the sustainability of our reservoir and groundwater supplies. Rainwater harvesting means that you can bypass water restrictions to some extent, using your own supply instead of a limited supply of main water.
Not only is Australia a land of droughts, but in many areas, floods are a constant concern. Without rainwater harvesting, almost all flood water is wasted as it washes away and becomes contaminated. Not only does rainwater harvesting find use from this abundance of water, but it also reduces the burden on storm drains and other water safety measures.
Domestically, the most common method of rainwater harvesting is roof catchment systems. Rain that falls on the roof is siphoned off via gutters into a large collection tank. Hundreds of litres can be stored this way. With proper installation and the right filters, no effort is involved in rainwater collection other than the initial setup, gravity does all the work. Due to their size, roofs can collect an enormous amount of water. In a single-story house, the surface area of the roof is usually greater than the surface area of the house itself. Based on the average floor space of an Australian house, over 200 litres can be collected during a decent rainfall. Any excess is simply filtered out.
Rainwater collection technology is constantly developing in order to deliver cleaner and more abundant water to harvesters. “First flush” diverters protect stored water from contaminants, which are most prevalent during the first flush runoff. Highly advanced meshes keep leaves and debris from blocking the gutters. Outlets and valves ensure a steady, stable flow of water.
There is a variety of water tank systems available. While the tanks themselves are fundamentally the same, a variety of inputs and outputs can be used. These can range from a simple gravity tap to an electric pump that delivers water into the house. Gauges can also be installed in order to monitor and regulate water levels.
The advantages and benefits of rainwater harvesting are so numerous that every household can benefit from installing some form of rainwater harvesting system. There are sizes and systems available for every budget, and the amount saved from reducing utility bills should be considered a discount for every purchase.
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