Well Water Alternative: Rainwater Harvesting for Homes
This article lays out an alternative to well water – rainwater harvesting. That’s right! Rainwater harvesting is a viable option to fully supply your home with water.
Considering Drilling a Well? There is Another Option.
Are you considering a well for your home? You’re not alone. While municipal (city) water supply makes up the majority of home water supply in the U.S., around 13% of Americans rely on well water for their home. Wells provide water where, seemingly, no access is available.
Well water is the 2nd most common water source, but, it may not be the best option. If you are building a home that lacks access to city water, or the prospect of laying hundreds of feet of city water line isn’t attractive and you are considering water alternatives, consider rainwater harvesting.
When compared to well water, rainwater harvesting provides overwhelming benefits. Keep reading to learn about them!
Problem 1. Well Water Quality
What’s your experience with well water? Do you associate well water with a crystal clear glass of water that tastes great with no odor? Or does thoughts of “rotten-egg” smell, iron stains, sediment, hard water, and other inferior water factors come to mind?
Perhaps you’ve heard stories of “the best water I ever had was at grandpa’s farm from their old well”, or maybe the odor of sulfur or iron bacteria is much too common for you. The thing is, well chemistry can vary on a massive scale. Not only that, well water is not guaranteed to maintain good quality if you are lucky enough to drill a well with clear water.
You see, circumstances that you have no control of can completely change the chemistry of a well. The neighbor has construction work done, or excavation work takes place a couple of miles away, many factors can contribute to a well changing.
Hard water is very common in wells because what is hard water? It’s rock deposits. Calcium and magnesium deposits that the water comes in contact with are dissolved causing hard water.
Odor is also a problem associated with wells. Sulfur deposits and iron bacteria can be stubborn problems that homeowners are forced to solve.
Lastly, iron staining, sediment, volatile gas (no joke), and other water contaminants make up a host of possible issues that will need to be corrected.
The quality of well water is not guaranteed and is seldom good.
Problem 2. Well Water Reliability
We’ve already discussed the quality of well water not being reliable, but there are other parts of well drilling that is unreliable.
When purchasing a well to be drilled, it is not guaranteed that well driller will reach water. Well drilling is generally priced at a per-foot basis, depending on the depth of the well. If you drill a 200 or 500 ft well and no water is reached, you will still be required to pay the bill as if you had reached water.
Not only that, but there is no guarantee that the well water will be there long term. You may get water access for the first few years and then lose it due to the underground water tables.
Problem 3. Well Water Pressure & Flow Rate
Another issue that can be common with wells is having low water pressure and/or low flow rate. So if multiple in the home are using water at the same time, it can flow down to a trickle out of the faucet.
Low water pressure and flow rate can be caused by a low producing well which there is no immediate solution for (other than a well capacity system)
There is a term in the water pump industry called “head”, which stands for the number of feet upwards that water has to be pumped. For example, a 250 ft deep well for a 1 story home, might have a “head” of 260 ft. The more head you have, the more powerful a pump you need and/or larger diameter of pipe through which the water is being pumped. (Psst, most rainwater harvesting systems have less than 25 feet of head)
Rainwater Harvesting: A Self Sufficient Water Source
So what are the options available if not well water? Allow me to introduce to you rainwater harvesting.
Rainwater Harvesting is a whole-house water supply that provides high-quality water, that is reliable, and at great pressure & flow rate.
Solution 1. Water Quality of Rainwater Harvesting
When it comes to water quality, rainwater harvesting is unmatched. The harvested rainwater just exited nature’s big distiller in the sky, and after falling on a roof and maneuvering through the rainwater harvesting system process, something remarkable occurs.
The harvested rainwater comes out with very low TDS (total dissolved solids), is naturally soft, and free of chemicals and contaminants that are found in well water.
Solution 2. Reliability of Rainwater Harvesting
Is living off rainwater harvesting reliable? What if I run out of water?
This is a common question we are asked when homeowners are considering rainwater harvesting. And the answer is YES.
A properly design rainwater harvesting system will take into account the house size, occupants, rainfall data, and more to ensure the system is designed to meet demand. For instance, we look at 50-100-year rainfall data for every system that we design and install, and we use that data to ensure that the system is sized properly.
Many families are living with rainwater harvesting as the sole-source supply of water for their homes.
Solution 3. Water Pressure & Flow Rate of Rainwater Harvesting
Low water pressure and flow rate is a frustrating problem to have, especially after building your dream home. Rainwater Harvesting provides control of your water pressure and flow rate.
As mentioned above, rainwater harvesting pumps have very little head which they must overcome, so high pressure and flow rate are not hard to obtain.
Cost Comparison: Well Water & Rainwater Harvesting
When comparing well water and rainwater harvesting, one of the great realizations is that rainwater harvesting is very comparable to well water.
Now in most cases, drilling a well less than 250 ft a single time will cost less than a rainwater harvesting system. But, that is if everything goes according to plan. Start adding in a deeper well, a second drilling, water filtration systems, and other costs associated with well water and rainwater harvesting can quickly become the more economical choice.
You also want to think long term. Well water can often bring a long life of water filtration costs and chemical upkeep such as adding chlorine and salt to your filtration systems. Rainwater harvesting provides crystal clear water that is simple and pure.