Most people in the U.S. have their water supplied by municipal water sources. And if not, well water is the second most common water supply for residences. There is another water supply that most are probably not familiar with, or may have not even heard of it! Allow me to introduce you to rainwater harvesting for whole-house potable water supply.
Yes, you read that correctly. There are many families across Tennessee and the U.S. that are using rainwater harvesting as their primary water supply. And many of those even use it as their sole water supply. They use it for everything they would use municipal or well water for, drinking, washing, cooking, bathing, rainwater harvesting lets people live and use water just like 21st century Americans.
There are two primary residential uses for rainwater harvesting.
1. Indoor general purpose and potable water – This system is designed and treats the water such that end result is safe and healthy to drink and use. System planning and calculations account for demand and rain patterns to collect and store all the water needed to sufficiently supply the home and family with quality water.
2. Irrigation – This system is designed specifically for irrigation. Therefore, it is designed slightly more simple than a whole-house potable system.
Indoor general purpose and potable water
Water Quality – “Is rainwater really safe to drink?” YES. Remember that all water at some point was rain, rainwater harvesting simply collects that water earlier than municipal and well water sources. In fact, rainwater is naturally fresh and the treatment necessary to make it safe is minimal. Just like municipal or well water, when treated properly, rainwater is completely safe.
Recognizing the exceptionally low TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) of rainwater, water experts do not recommend purification systems such as reverse osmosis be used with rainwater systems – it is already pure!
It is free of inorganic contaminants, which include undesirable scale forming minerals and dangerous heavy metals because it is freshly distilled. The filtration and purification system removes any organic and microbiological contaminants. On top of that, rainwater is naturally soft and is rid of the many chemicals and contaminants found in municipal water. It is simply the best water on the planet!
Case Study – Matthew and April Lowrance decided they wanted the new custom home they were building to be supplied with rainwater. They have children and often have guests over, so they needed to make sure they would have plenty of water. Their rainwater harvesting system was designed to meet their needs, while providing full pressure and allowing them to use water just like they would’ve normally.
They also had an automatic crossover to municipal supply so that if the rainwater ever got low, it would switch over to the backup water supply creating even more peace of mind.
They have been living off of rainwater for over a year and couldn’t be happier. When catching up with Matthew, he said that it is, “in a way, anti-climatic when using rainwater harvesting. Because with a properly designed and installed system, one can’t really tell the difference. That is, until going back to using municipal water, then the lower quality water is very easy to spot the difference.”
System Design – There is a lot to consider when using rainwater harvesting. The design is critical for a properly functioning system. Read this article to learn more.
Water Availability – Municipal (city) water and well water have been the only two water sources available for most people for decades. There weren’t options for you if your well was producing poor quality water or if you were planning to build outside of municipal water limits. That is not true anymore. There are options.
Rainwater harvesting gives the ability to have excellent, pure water in the middle of nowhere. It is your own personal water supply. Whether in a vast prairie or on top of a mountain, collecting rainwater provides the option to live fully, without the concern of water availability and water purity.
Rainwater harvesting can be a very economical choice if municipal lines are not directly in front of your home. Drilling a well is always a gamble for both water availability and water quality.
Read this article on other residential benefits for rainwater harvesting
Case Study – Water is a precious resource, and in some applications, using rainwater harvesting for irrigation can lower the demand on your primary water source. We recently finished a project at Blackberry Farm where we installed a rainwater harvesting irrigation supply system. Due to the water flow coming from the homeowner’s primary water source, this irrigation rainwater harvesting system was able to improve their water consumption by spreading out their primary water source demand.
System Design – While an irrigation supply rainwater harvesting system is slightly more simple to design, there are still many considerations and components that must work together to create a successful system.
Want to learn even more about rainwater harvesting in Knoxville and Nashville? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Rainwater Harvesting
You can also contact our team.