Rainwater harvesting is a simple strategy by which rainfall is gathered and stored for future usage. The process involves collection and storage of rainwater with help of artificially designed systems, that runs off natural or man-made catchment areas.
Rain water harvesting is one of the most effective methods of water management and water conservation. It involves collection and storage of rain water at surface or in subsurface aquifers, before it is lost as surface run off.
Water collected could be used for domestic needs, livestock, agroforestry and small-scale farming in order to overcome the inadequacy of surface water to meet demands and to checkmate declining groundwater levels.
Some of the ways farmer can harvest and store water are:
1. Rooftop rainwater harvesting
This type of rainwater harvesting system is quite popular and the water can easily be collected from the terrace of the building or the courtyards. In the rooftop rainwater harvesting system, the roof becomes the catchment area where the rainwater is stored. This water can either be stored in a tank or transferred to an artificial recharge system.
The channel then connects to a filter which purifies all the impurities before transferring it to the tank. The filter effectively separates any kind of dirt or debris from the water.
2. Install a rain barrel
One of the easiest ways to store the rainwater is by installing a rain barrel. A rain barrel can be easily made by using an empty trash can or by using an empty drum. This unit is then connected to a pipe which transfers the water from the rooftop into it. To prevent the barrel from becoming a breeding ground for insects and mosquitoes you can cover it with a tight-fitting top and screen the ends of the downspouts leading into the barrels.
The benefits of this system are that it can be easily implemented without occupying much space in your home. Thus, you do not have to make a provision of additional space for the rain barrel.
3. Recharge your wells and boreholes
Creating a recharge pit for boreholes and wells is also a good idea as it pushes the surface water into the groundwater systems. Usually, a recharge pit is one meter in diameter and six-meter-deep, lined with concrete rings having perforations. These perforations let filtered and distilled water seep from the sides increasing the groundwater table.
This helps to store the abundant water during the summers and also reduces the salinity, turbidity, and colour of the stored water.
4. Using a reservoir
The surface of the rooftop on which the rainwater falls can be flat or slanting. This is then connected to a pipe, which connects it to a storage tank. This water can be used for washing cars, watering gardens, and it also minimizes the usage of the existing groundwater. A win-win system for economy and environment, this also helps in saving energy and keeps the energy bill to a minimum.
5. Use of a dam
A dam is a man-made structure built across a river to impede the flow of the river and create a reservoir, or body of water, upstream of the dam. A levee is a natural or man-made structure that runs along the banks of a river to prevent it from overflowing or changing course.
Storage dams are constructed to store water during the rainy seasons, supply water to the local wildlife, and store water for hydroelectric power generation, and irrigation. Storage dams are the most common types of dams.
6. Build a rain saucer
If you are looking for an easy and simple way of collecting the rainwater, a rain saucer is a perfect solution. It easily collects the rainwater without much hassle and fills up surprisingly fast. Looking like an upside-down umbrella, the rain saucer unfolds to form a funnel which fills the containers with rainwater. This kind of system easily collects the rainwater from the sky and decreases the chances of contamination of the water.
The benefits of Harvesting water
- The rainwater that falls on your roof and property is essentially free. All it takes is a method to harvest it into a tank or cistern for later use.
- Rainwater harvesting can be a great educational tool to get people to recognize their individual or household water usage. This can get them to start conserving water in other areas around their home.
- For communities that rely on imported water to supply their needs, collecting rainwater that falls naturally in the community can reduce the need for imported water.
- Rainwater harvesting helps utilities reduce peak demands during summer months, saving treated water for more important and appropriate water uses.
- While rainwater can be a perfect primary water source for many uses and situations, it is also a great backup water supply for emergency situations.
- Rainwater harvesting can reduce stormwater runoff from a property. The elimination of runoff can reduce contamination of surface water with pesticides, sediment, metals, and fertilizers.
- By reducing stormwater runoff, rainwater harvesting can reduce a storm’s peak flow volume and velocity in local creeks, streams, and rivers, thereby reducing the potential for streambank erosion.
- Rainwater harvesting systems can be employed as simple and effective methods to meet a municipality’s stormwater management program requirements of individual properties.
- It is an excellent source of water for plants and landscape irrigation since it has no chemicals such as fluoride and chloramines (chlorine).
As you can see from the benefits and listed above, the practice of rainwater harvesting is an important and vital part of developing a sustainable water resource path for any community. As local water resources are stretched to provide for population growth and economic development, new water supply strategies and paradigms will be necessary to meet this demand. Rainwater harvesting is an untapped resource that could be developed quickly within communities and that will also have a tremendous impact. Rainwater harvesting is part of a sustainable water supply strategy for local communities.