So you are considering using rainwater as a backup or emergency water supply. Rainwater is a great solution for both however there are things that need to be considered prior to installation.
One major item for consideration is whether you have public water supply to your property. If you have public water supply anywhere located on your property, then you must have backflow prevention properly installed. This avoids the situation where rainwater mixes with city water into the public supply or the public supply mixing with the rainwater you have in your cistern. If the rainwater system is being installed for non-potable use, prior to any conversion to using in the home for potable use, the backflow prevention device must be installed. If you do not see this as part of the quote for the installation or conversion, then you as the property owner, should be asking where that information is. This expense can be a larger fixed expense due to needing a plumber or someone who is licensed to perform this connection (some irrigation licensing does have this endorsement) and having to pay their rates on the length of time it takes them to perform the installation as they generally charge by the hour as well as trip charges in some cases.
While rainwater is the safest form of water available to us, this is prior to it hitting the ground and/or touching other surfaces. Rainwater can become contaminated just like any other water source. In order to ensure the rainwater is safe for drinking or potable use in the home, a filtration system which includes separate filters and a UV light should be used. This ensures that the water is properly disinfected for potable use. We recommend gutter foam in the gutters, a first flush diverter as well as using the filtration system because the cleaner the water is going in, the cleaner it will be for it’s intended use. In some cases, tree limbs may also need to be trimmed to allow for less organic matter in the water.
We will discuss filtration topics in separate blog posts in the future but in the meantime, here are 2 great resources we found that discuss filtration of rainwater in great detail:
Potable Rainwater: Filtration and Purification
Rainwater Quality and Filtration
In conclusion, rainwater is a great source for primary water supply, emergency water supply or a backup water supply. Please do your research and ensure you abide by your local regulations for rainwater harvesting in your area before you install a system. Water safety is all of our concern and responsibility.
As always, comments and/or questions are always relevant and welcome.
RainDrop Harvesting Solutions, LLC