Much of the water we use doesn’t need to be of drinking quality. In fact studies show that 55 per cent of domestic treated water could be substituted for rainwater while 85 per cent of water used for commerce and industry does not need to be of drinking standard.
Believe it or not the practice of rainwater harvesting is so ancient that it predates mains water supplies.
Rainwater harvesting systems have only started to grow in popularity in Ireland during the past couple of years or so. However, they have long been popular abroad. For example, they have been used for about 20 years in Germany, which does not have as much rainfall as Ireland and is more reliant on groundwater.
To date, the demand for rainwater harvesting technology in construction projects has been driven by planning decisions, commercial developments and environmentally conscious builders and developers. But that is all about to change with new tariffs and regulations on the way.
Water charges and new building regulations are on the way
In the coming months we are likely to see the introduction of water charges, which will drive water conservation to the top of the construction agenda. In an era where domestic water bills are commonplace only those builders who offer units with the latest technology will have a competitive edge in the market.
In conjunction with water charges it is also very likely that there will be a change in the building regulations, which will effectively make water conservation technologies compulsory. Such a regulation would have been nonsense in the absence of water charges, but makes perfect sense in an era when we have to pay for water.
Rainwater can be safely used for a variety of non-potable purposes including flushing toilets, running washing machines, cleaning cars and watering the garden.
Harvested rainwater can be invaluable for industry – one of the largest water consumers – where it can be used for factory cooling systems, and cleaning vehicles and equipment, for instance.
So what does rainwater harvesting equipment do?
Basically, it allows rainwater to be collected, stored and re-used, and eventually discharged through the foul system.
Most rainwater harvesting equipment operates using typical roof drainage layouts. Rainwater runs down the roof, into the guttering and fall pipes in the normal way before passing through a filter, which removes the leaves and grit. The water is then stored in an underground tank containing a pump and filter.