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Rainwater for Drinking – Considerations

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
www.RainDropSavers.com


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Drinking Water and TDS

When you drink from your tap, refrigerator, or bottled water do you think about TDS in your cup? Water standards are in place that enable our cities to keep our drinking water safe and within the correct limits. However, it is often interesting to do your own test just to see what the results are.

Defining terms:

Dissolved solids refer to any minerals, salts, metals, cations or anions dissolved in water. Total dissolved solids (TDS) typically comprise inorganic salts (principally calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates) and some small amounts of organic matter that are dissolved in water.

The current EPA TDS standards & info (taken from http://www.tdsmeter.com/education?id=0018): In terms of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises against consuming water containing more than 500mg/liter, otherwise known as 500 parts per million (ppm) of TDS, although many health specialists believe that ideal drinking water should be under 50 ppm or lower. The average tap water in America contains approximately 350 ppm of TDS although it is not uncommon for municipal or local water supplies to exceed this. If TDS levels exceed 1000mg/L, however, it is generally considered harmful to human health and should not be consumed.

We recently were told by a customer that they performed a TDS test on their water. We had installed 2 rainwater systems on their property. This property has a small herd of cattle and while we were installing there was dust settling all over our tools and equipment that the animals stirred up daily. The guttering has normal screen and both systems have first flush diverters on them. The customer told us that they tested bottled water at 3 TDS. One of their systems had 1.3 TDS and the other had 1.8 TDS. They were amazed at the results that the rainwater they collected has less Total Dissolved Solids than the bottled water.

By no means are we saying this water is drinkable straight out of the cistern. We are purely recounting what the customer told us. We have seen this test performed on other types of water as well with very similar results. With proper treatment the water from the cistern will be safe to drink. It also requires less treatment in many cases than well water.

We encourage educating yourself on the subject of Total Dissolved Solids in drinking water. There are multiple resources out there discussing the subject in depth. There are many inexpensive options out there as well allowing you to test your own water in the privacy of your own home if you are curious enough to do so. Your city’s municipal water supply is supposed to supply you with information about their annual results of the drinking supply. This is often on their website or sent to their customers. We are lucky to live in a country that enables us access to clean, safe drinking water.


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2 Systems = Rainwater for Fruit Trees

It is always a pleasure for us to go out and educate potential clients. This potential client was delighted to know that the rainwater tanks he had purchased did not have to go right by the barn as he originally thought they would have to.

In our original visit, we proposed the tanks go under the trees. Since they were polyurethane, this does two things. Protects the tanks from the sun and weather, and keeps the water cooler since the tanks set in the shade. It also camouflages the tanks somewhat as well as they blend into the scenery instead of being out in the open.

Below are a few pics of our initial tank placement prior to installation.

 

We put in quite a bit of hard work on both these systems, solving multiple concerns as we worked. The end result was a drier barn arena, water collecting from two separate gutters into two separate tanks, submersible pumps installed in each for on demand water use. We think we did pretty well at surpassing the customer’s requests.

The tank furthest away had the shortest plumbing run but it has all the standard features we include: tank foundation, first flush diverter installed on treated lumber, water level monitor, system cleanout drain, spigot and overflow. The end result of several days of planning, trenching and gluing pvc is below.

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The second system had the longer PVC and the deeper trenching because we actually brought the overflow back out into the pasture next to the barn in the same trench. It was fun to design and implement. This system also included all our standards for installation. The end result is shown below:

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Within 2 weeks of installation, both tanks were full. Only 2 rainfall events filled these tanks to overflowing. See pics below of water level meters showing full:

 

We can’t begin to explain how rewarding it is to go out and serve people by helping them conserve our most precious resource, water. Bringing their rainwater system dreams to life is a privilege we do not take lightly.


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250 Gallon Poly Rainwater Harvesting System Installation

Over the weekend, we had the privilege of installing a 250 gallon polyethylene rainwater tank for a customer. Below are the before and after photos we took of the installation. 


The 2 pictures below were taken 3 weeks prior to the installation, of the backyard space identified as the best location for the rainwater harvesting system. The determination of tank placement is a collaboration of information taken from our site survey and discussion with the customer of what their precise needs are for the rainwater being harvested. This process allows for the most efficient placement for water usage. 



We arrived bright and early at 7 am to beat the heat. We built the tank pad (round rocks around the base of the tank) and constructed all the PVC fittings needed to connect from the gutter to the tank (inflow) and the water overflow. This includes First Flush Diverter and a Water Level Gauge also installed on the tank. 




Normally our water test involves taking a hose into the gutter to check for leaks from gutter to tank. Today right as we finished the final joint from gutter to inflow, we had a small downpour and thunder. We were able to actually capture a few gallons of rain into the tank. It is music to the ears to hear water going into an empty tank. 




Stay tuned for more pictures as we keep helping customers conserve water in the Brazos Valley and surrounding areas in Texas!


As always, comments and/or questions are always relevant and welcome. 

RainDrop Harvesting Solutions, LLC
www.RainDropSavers.com


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Last Week’s Rainfall Put Small Dent in Drought Conditions for the Brazos Valley

Recent rainfall in the Brazos Valley has put a small dent in the drought conditions. The graphic below shows the rainfall totals on May 13th for 24 hours as shown on KBTX.com website.



Given these rainfall totals, here is how much rainwater you could have captured, for use during the drier months from this rainfall event, if you have a 1500 sq foot surface to capture from:


Bryan/College Station = (1500 x .623) x 3.36 => 3139.92 or  3140 gallons of rain
Caldwell = (1500 x .623) x 3.45 => 3224.025 or  3224 gallons of rain
Cameron = (1500 x .623) x 2.18 => 2037.21 or  2037 gallons of rain
Conroe = (1500 x .623) x 5.49 => 5130.405 or  5130 gallons of rain
Crockett = (1500 x .623) x 2.88 => 2691.36 or  2691 gallons of rain
Hearne = (1500 x .623) x 2.78 => 2597.91 or  2598 gallons of rain
Huntsville  = (1500 x .623) x 3.80 => 3551.10 or  3551 gallons of rain
Giddings = (1500 x .623) x 3.34 => 3121.23 or  3121 gallons of rain
Madinsonville = (1500 x .623) x 3.80 => 3551.10 or  3551 gallons of rain
Navasota = (1500 x .623) x 3.36 => 3139.92 or  3140 gallons of rain
Trinity = (1500 x .623) x 2.88 => 2691.36 or  2691 gallons of rain

The real winners were:

Brenham = 
(1500 x .623) x 14.50 => 13550.25 or  13550 gallons of rain
Hempstead = (1500 x .623) x 14.50 => 13550.25 or  13550 gallons of rain


We aren’t out of the woods yet with summer fast approaching. According to this article on KBTX.com, the ‘rainfall deficit for the year has been cut from around 7 inches to just 3.37″ …’ Easterwood airport officially received 5.44″ of rainfall up to May 14th. This would bring the total above on a 1500 sq ft roof to 5084 gallons of rain that could have been captured. 

The Bryan/College Station area generally (using the past 10 years as a guideline) getting around 3 inches or more in the wetter months and with July and August being the driest months at 2″ or less, we hopefully will get another 3-4 inches before the hottest months. So you still have time to get a system in to capture any water that falls to use for your lawn, outdoor plants and/or garden, livestock or pets, and even for potable use. 

Rainwater harvesting costs for a system is generally similar to drilling a well with one main advantage. Rainwater is the purest form of water until it hits the ground. So you can have clean water from the start with a harvesting system in place and a few safeguards installed to ensure a trustworthy, clean and sanitary source for water for you and your family. 


As always, comments and/or questions are always relevant and welcome. 

RainDrop Harvesting Solutions, LLC
www.RainDropSavers.com