Part 1. A growing industry with some challenges ahead
By Steve Goldberg
Although various forms of rainwater harvesting have been used for thousands of years, as an organized industry, it is still in its infancy. At present, no national standards are in place regulating its use, although various states and municipalities have begun promulgating laws concerning how rainwater may (or may not) be used.
A Word From the President
“The field is really ramping up,” says Crawford. “Actually, it has been over the last four or five years. You see EPA pushing it, localities pushing it. It’s an opportunity to collect water from off of roofs, and in fact reuse that water, keep it onsite, which eliminates a huge portion of your stormwater runoff.”
Rain Check in Philadelphia
“ECA [Energy Coordinating Agency] has been around for about thirty years,” notes Zachary Popkin, program manager for ECA in Philadelphia. “It was founded in the 1980s as a nonprofit organization that focused on energy efficiency and weatherization.
Rainwater Harvesting in the Southeast
“When you’re talking about rainwater harvesting, you’re either talking about active or passive systems,” explains Mike Ruck of Rain Water Solutions, based in Raleigh, NC. “We predominantly deal with active systems, which means physical tanks, filters, pumps, that kind of thing. When you’re talking about passive systems, that’s when you’re talking about rain gardens, swales, and so on that are designed to slow the water from leaving the site—keeping it onsite so that you get deep ground infiltration, as opposed to just running off and hitting a stream. There are not enough of these systems in place, so streams are becoming less healthy, because we’re sending all that water to the stream rather than mimicking what happened predevelopment. Predevelopment, the majority of the water would stay onsite.
Jim Harrington runs Rainwater Collection Solutions in Alpharetta, GA. His company produces The Original Rainwater Pillow, which he describes as “a flexible pillow that fills up and empties with water; it moves up and down. It’s horizontal storage.
A Canadian Perspective
Mike Gregory, a senior water resources engineer with AECOM, in Kitchener, ON, is very upbeat about the potential for rainwater harvesting, although he is dismayed at the slow progress the industry is making.
Author’s Bio: Steve Goldberg writes on issues related to erosion control and the environment.