20,000 Gallon Rain Harvesting System Installed By Homeowner To Offset Drought

WATER EFFICIENCY Magazine May 1, 2009

Monte Sereno, CA – The California drought may appear to have softened because of the last batch of rains, but Monte Sereno resident Jerry Block isn’t having second thoughts at all about having one of the largest rain collection systems in the Santa Clara Valley recently installed in his back yard.

You may wonder why he installed this system when he’s only saving a few hundred dollars a year. Jerry feels it’s all about being sustainable and preparing for the unknown.

“What if there is an earthquake and what if the drought continues?” says Jerry, “At least I will have water for my family and neighbors. Rainwater can also be used for fire suppression, irrigation, washing your car and even for keeping your swimming pool filled.“

On the surface, the news that Sierra snowpack measurements show water content at 81 percent of normal appears to be good news. But the Department of Water Resources (DWA) reports that the economic impacts of the California drought — now in its third year — will be devastating.

“Central Valley farm revenue loss is estimated to range between $325 million and $477 million,” according to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Drought Report. “Total income losses to those directly involved in crop production and to those in business related to crop production is estimated to range between $440 and $644 million.”

The result of the sustained drought, according to the report, will be an estimated loss of 16,200 to 23,700 full-time equivalent jobs.

“The overall water supply situation has not improved enough to make up for the two previous dry years and low reservoir conditions,” says DWR Director Lester Snow. “Water storage is about five million acre feet below average.”

Jerry is being sustainable about his efforts with his newly installed rain harvesting system because it saves the water agency electricity from not having to pump 20,000 gallons of water to his home anymore.

Collecting this much rainwater significantly reduces stormwater runoff and erosion problems. That’s 20,000 gallons less rainwater that could get contaminated by the time it gets to a stream or an underground aquifer. With the craze of the Victory Gardens, as popularized by Michelle Obama, rainwater catchment helps assure that water will be available for growing home gardens during hot summer months.

There are many benefits to a rain collection system that many times are overlooked, as described by John Lewis of Rain Harvesting Systems.

“Most people don’t really understand the sustainable reasons for having a rain harvesting system installed,” comments John. “The return on investment may never come, but having a rainwater supply is more than valuable, it’s responsible.”

Fremont based company Rain Harvesting Systems installed four 5,000-gallon rainwater tanks to achieve the 20,000 gallon capacity.  Gutterglove Gutterguard was used on the roof gutters for filtering out all the leaves, pine needless and sand from the four rain tanks.

Tim Pope, president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA), sees a growing demand for information about collecing rainwater.

“Rain harvesting is growing tremendously in the United States, especially in California,” said Pope. “California seems to wait for a catastrophe (drought) before it goes after a cause like collecting rainwater.”

Pope recently led a two-day rainwater harvesting workshop in San Francisco, where demand for education is particularly high. The workshop prepares individuals and business owners for the ARCSA accredited professional test for rain harvesting.

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