Case Study Research: Design & Methods: Applied Social Research Methods Series

Environmental Benefits of Harvesting Rainwater

How often do you harvest rainwater? Apart from significantly reducing your spending on municipal water, harvesting rainwater has a lot of benefits for the environment.

Anyone can set up a rainwater harvesting system on their property. From a simple rainwater tank to a more comprehensive system with the plumbing and an irrigation scheme on the property.

Rainwater is useful for all your water needs. This helps us to reduce our dependence on treated municipal water.

How Harvesting Rainwater Benefits the Environment

Reduces Energy Use and Carbon Emissions

Approximately, 9.7 billion cubic meters of wastewater flows through the sewer system in Germany alone, every year. That means a lot of energy is used to treat this water and pump it around the system again.

Therefore, these water treatment industries emit carbon when treating and transporting the water. When you harvest and use rainwater, you save the energy used as well as reducing the carbon emitted into the environment.

Reduce Runoff

Collecting rainwater reduces the amount of runoff water that would have otherwise ended up in the sewer system. When there is excess runoff and the sewer system cannot handle the volume, raw sewage is discharged into the area.

In cities, 90% of rainwater often ends up being runoff water due to the sealed surfaces like parking lots and roads. Collecting this water helps to reduce runoff and consequently relieves the sewer system.

It reduces the contamination of the ground from pesticides and other chemicals. It also reduces stream bank erosion and mudslides among other issues.

Replenishes Groundwater Supplies

Collecting rainwater for use in the garden will reduce the effects of stormwater as you’ll be holding it in one place. When you release it into your garden later when the ground is not saturated, the water goes back into the ground.

Therefore, you are recharging the groundwater while also hydrating the soil. In the process, you restore the broken infiltration step in the hydrological cycle.

Reduce the Overdrawing of Groundwater

Water reservoirs and groundwater are usually overdrawn. Most people depend on borehole water or even pumped and treated water from a lake or dam.

When you collect water to supply your water needs from the rain that falls on your roof, you will be reducing overdrawing on these already stressed systems, which can then replenish their sources.

Healthier Soil and Plants

Rainwater is the plants’ preferred source of hydration. It is free of chemicals and salts that are typical of any treated water. These chemicals alter the chemical composition of the soil which has a direct effect on plants.

Additionally, rainwater has a balanced pH that is required by the plants. The chemicals in treated water alter the pH of the soil.

Consequently, the plants may not be healthy enough. You are indirectly consuming the chemicals when you eat the plants. Using rainwater will ensure healthy soils and plants even for consumption.

In a Nutshell

Harvesting rainwater has more advantages to the environment than we may think. Apart from aiding in nature’s cycle, you’ll be reducing flooding by runoff water, saving on energy, protecting the environment by reducing carbon emissions as well as growing healthy plants.

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