Now that the “first flush” rain of the season has arrived, it’s time to consider banking some of the next wet currency in storage containers for outdoor use next spring. Water or lack of it due to restrictions in many Bay Area communities is forcing people to take a closer look at how they use water and consider new strategies to help stretch their water options.
During a typical rainy season, most communities see an average rainfall of 30 inches. For a 2,000 square foot home, that means approximately 37,000 gallons of water will run off the roof and down the storm drain. To counter this lost opportunity, a San Anselmo company, California Rainwater Conservation Systems, LLC is selling super-sized rain barrels. “The beauty of these 200 and 300 gallon barrels is that they are completely self-sufficient systems,” says company president Andrew Vance. “During a storm, the system can also redirect water to other spots on a homeowner’s property by connecting the overflow valve to a regular garden hose. This process of sinking water at its origin helps replenish the aquifer through filtration which, ecologically, is a far better option than sending run-off through flood-prone drainage systems.”
Rain storage systems draw a comparison to an insurance policy for landscaping. During uncertain times such as the present state drought, residents can bank water to use later on. In extreme conditions such as the 80’s drought, many remember choosing which plants were expendable and which ones received their recycled bath or dish water.
More frequently, extreme conservation measures are on the drawing board for many California cities. Just this past week, an emergency water conservation plan was presented in San Diego that would create a property-by-property water budget for residential customers. The East Bay water district has also called on residents to make significant (19%) reductions in water use or incur considerably higher water bills. In Palo Alto, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica, a rebate program for rain barrels encourages customers to conserve by creating value around their water use and ultimately, behavioral modifications.
Whatever the forecast for this winter’s rainfall, water conservation is here to stay and rain harvesting is a measurable tool in this effort. What’s missing? Two words, awareness and initiative. The idea is there, the technology is there, but the initiative is missing in both individual homeowners and public entities. More education on the matter is needed. Rebates for homeowners who want to put in rainwater storage systems are needed. Above all, awareness is needed. Awareness that there is a problem and awareness that there is a solution.
Next community rain barrel distribution day: Sunday, November 23rd, 9:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. 1601 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Fairfax Ca. For more information go to: [http://www.Calrainwater.com] (permission to use photos from website)
Patti Vance is the founder of California Rainwater Conservation Systems, LLC and is an accredited member of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association. She also serves as a board member for the Environmental Education Council of Marin. Website: [http://www.Calrainwater.com]