rainwater harvesting pros and cons

Are you thinking of installing a rainwater harvesting system? Here are common rainwater harvesting pros and cons you must consider before you do that.

11 Important Rainwater Harvesting Pros And Cons to Consider

Water is an element of life that both plants and animals can’t live without. Although water is a natural resource, various factors like random weather patterns, high infrastructure costs, as well as high consumption rates, have made water an expensive item to acquire.

Today we will look at rainwater harvesting pros and cons, to help us determine whether rain harvesting is an ideal way to avoid these high, water bills.

Although rain is one of the easiest ways to get clean and cheap water, there are also some downsides with this method. Therefore, before you can decide to install the rainwater harvesting system, you should first consider these points and see if it is a viable option.

However, before we get into the pros and cons, lets first understand what rainwater harvesting is and how it works.

Rainwater Harvesting

Simply put, rainwater harvesting refers to the methods we use to collect and store rainwater for future use. The water can be stored in tanks or natural reservoirs. It can also refer to the collection of rainwater into subsurface aquifers.

The aim of collecting the rainwater is to keep it for reuse, instead of letting it just runoff. The harvested rainwater can be used for various purposes in our homes, farms, or even by large-scale industries.

What is a Water Harvesting System?

This is a system or technology that people use to collect and store rainwater, either for private or commercial use. Rainwater harvesting systems can range from a single barrel or tank to more complex structures that include tanks, pumps, and purification technology.

Even non-potable water can be used for other various purposes such as laundry, irrigation, use in toilets, cleaning, or purified for human use. These systems vary in size and complexity, and you have to know which best fits your needs.

Now let us see what these rainwater harvesting pros and cons are:

Advantages of Rainwater Harvesting

  1. Reduces Your Water Bills

If you can harvest enough water for your everyday use, it means that you will reduce the amount of money you pay to water companies. You can use the water you harvest for various purposes in your home such as flushing toilets, laundry, watering your indoor garden or backyard garden, and washing dishes, among others.

If you do rainwater harvesting on a large scale, you can cater to any water need in your home, business, or even at your farm. The process can help you save a significant amount of money on water bills, which you can use to cover other bills.

  1. Low-Cost Maintenance

After you install the system, repair and maintenance costs are relatively low. You don’t have to keep checking on the system. Especially if you are not harvesting water for drinking use, you don’t require much purification thus lower cost.

Also, even if you decide to purify your water for human consumption, these costs are still lower than what you would pay to water companies.

  1. Ideal Source For Irrigation Water

When you harvest rainwater directly as the rain pours, you are sure to have pure water that is not contaminated. Unless the water gets contaminated during the harvesting, rainwater contains no harmful chemicals like those found in some groundwater.

This makes rainwater an excellent source of water to irrigate your farm, or water your small garden. Some of the water found beneath the ground contain some chemicals which can bring harmful effects to our health. Therefore, not only is water harvesting economical, but it is also healthy.

  1. Reduces Groundwater Demand

With each passing day, the earth’s population is growing rapidly, and so is the demand for water to cater for its needs. For this reason, more and more drillings are being done to extract groundwater to satisfy this population.

With rain harvesting, we can reduce the amount of pressure on groundwater as the rainwater will cater to some of the water needs. This will also ensure that we conserve the underground water for a needy day.

  1. You Can Use The Water For Multiple Purposes

If the rainwater is properly harvested, it can be suitable for use in almost all aspects of our lives. From drinking, washing, farming, bathing, cooking, and more. It can also be used in industries that require large amounts of water for production processes.

Rainwater also keeps the environment green and conducive to live in. Therefore, if you want to harvest rainwater, do it in the right way.

  1. Lowers Prevalent Floods And Soil Erosion

When we harvest rainwater in large scale, it means that we reduce the amount of runoff water. By doing so, we minimize flooding of some areas, as well as prevent soil erosion. If we don’t do rain harvesting in low-lying places, there are higher chances of floods affecting these areas.

By preventing runoff rainwater, it means that we prevent soil contamination caused by washed away chemical or diseases from other areas. Also, we prevent water-borne diseases from spreading due to continued flooding.

Disadvantages of Rainwater Harvesting

Despite the various positive attributes of rainwater harvesting, the process also comes with several disadvantages. Therefore, by looking at rainwater harvesting pros and cons, it ensures that we get the whole picture of the process. Here are these disadvantages.

  1. Rainfall Might Be Unreliable

When we say that rain is unreliable, what we mean is that the rain may fail to come when we expect it. For this reason, if you were planning to use rainwater and it fails to rain, you might feel disappointed.

Sometimes, the rainfall level may be very low to satisfy the current water needs, or at times fail to rain at all. However, if you had harvested enough water during the rainy season, you can survive for longer periods with enough water to use.

  1. High-energy Maintenance

Although we said that the system requires minimal maintenance costs, it will require a bit of your energy, to check on the system regularly. This is because the system may be infiltrated by algae, insects, rodents, and other small animals, which may harbor a breeding ground for dangerous organisms and diseases.

Therefore, it will need regular check-ups to ensure the system is clean and free from all these issues. If you don’t maintain it well, you might create more dangers than benefits.

  1. High Initial Costs

Although we also stated earlier that the system demands fewer maintenance costs, the original cost of setting up this system is high. If you want to install a rainwater harvesting system, be sure you will spend some good amounts.

Depending on the type of system you want, the price can fall somewhere between a few hundred dollars, to a few thousand dollars. In addition, the system will take around 10 to 15 years to recover its cost. Just like in solar panel systems.

  1. Chemical Seepage From Roofs

Despite the fact that rainfall offers a very clean source of water, the method of harvesting may cause contamination of the water. When looking at rainwater harvesting pros and cons, this is one area that stands out.

Sometimes, especially when using the rooftops to collect the rainwater, water may come into contact with some contaminated materials. For example, some roofs may contain some chemicals which can cause harmful effects if ingested or used to cater to plants.

  1. Storage Constraints

Storage limitations occur when you cannot collect and store as much water as you would like. This may be due to space or rainfall unavailability. For example, it may difficult to get storage equipment that is large enough to serve all your water needs.

Therefore, you might need to adjust your water usage, into levels that you can collect. This means that the capacity of your tank restricts you.

You may find that sometimes, you cannot store all the water you would like to, and this could mean having to tailor your water usage to the capacity of the tank. All these are rainwater harvesting problems that you should put into consideration before you set up your system.

Rainwater Harvesting Methods

There are four main methods of rainwater harvesting, which include:

  1. Barrel Harvesting

This method includes the installation of one or several barrels on your property to collect rainwater. Rainwater barrel harvesting methods are one of the cheapest ways of collecting water as the rain falls. All you require is to have some barrels and place them beneath the downspout of your gutter system to collect the water that falls on your roof.

The barrel will have a spigot at its base to enable you to draw water from it. You can use this water directly for irrigation. Also, you can also fix a hosepipe to this spigot, or better still, link it to your drip irrigation system.

However, if you reside in an area with many mosquitoes, ensure that you seal the barrel with a lead to prevent harboring these insects. Also, those who live in cold areas must ensure they disconnect their water barrels during the cold months to avoid freezing and consequently cracking.

  1. Dry System

The dry rainwater harvesting system is typically scaling up the barrel system. In this method, you use a much bigger container than a barrel to collect the rainwater. You place the container/tank next to your house or property and use a gutting system to direct rainwater into the tank.

The reason this system is called a dry system is that the pipes that collect the water run dry after the rain stops. The pipes will direct water into the storage container and therefore do not store water themselves.

  1. Wet System

Unlike in the dry system, the collecting pipes in this system are continually full of water. Instead of taking the rainwater to an over-the-ground tank, these pipes transport the water into underground storage.

The pipes run underground to the water storage and therefore, even after the rain stops, they still contain some water inside them. Since these pipes are constantly with water, you must properly seal them to avoid water leakages.

  1. Green Roof

Contrary to the other systems above which collects the rainwater into a storage container, a green roof system doesn’t. With this system, it is set in a way that it takes the rainwater directly to your plants.

However, you require a liner to shield your roof, as well as a drainage system that takes care of the excess runoff. In most cases, the drainage system directs the excess rainwater into a barrel for storage.

Importance of Rainwater Harvesting For Future

The most important aspect of rainwater harvesting is that you can use this water at a future date. Although in some instances people use the water directly, the stored water is very useful in the future.

In dry regions where water is scarce, large scale rainwater harvesting can help people have some water to use during the dry season. The process also helps prevent flooding or soil erosion, retaining soil fertility of an area. This way, people can grow their plants on fertile soil which is ideal for higher productivity.

Rainwater harvesting is a great process to handle water scarcity. And, although it might not eliminate drought, it can help in a great way.

Pros And Cons of Rain Barrels

Water barrels as storage equipment for rainwater harvesting has its positives and negatives. These advantages and disadvantages of Rainwater barrel harvesting include:

Pros of Rain Barrels

  • The barrels are the easiest ways of collecting rainwater.
  • They are cheap, especially if they are being reused after having a previous life.
  • Since they are being reused, it becomes a great way to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfills.
  • The barrels are lightweight and easy to move around even by one person.
  • They are easily installed, thus reducing the cost of installation.

Cons of Rain Barrels

  • They are small in size and therefore can’t store large volumes of water. For this reason, if you need more water, you must connect several barrels that will be able to serve your water needs.
  • By joining several water barrels, it increases the chances of leakages due to the multiple joints, especially with pipes.
  • If not well-sealed, they can become a breeding ground for insects like mosquitoes.

Get your rain barrel to start saving money on water with your garden.

Conclusion On Rainwater Harvesting Pros And Cons

Rainwater can be a great source of clean water for our households and businesses. However, there are multiple rainwater harvesting pros and cons you should think about before you install a harvesting system. I believe that this article offers you all you ought to know about the scope and limitations of the rainwater harvesting process.

Do you believe rainwater harvesting is an ideal alternative to the high water bills? Share with us your comments below.

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