What Is Rainwater Harvesting?

In an age of global warming and unpredictable weather patterns, many communities are suffering the cost of a water shortage- particularly in developing countries. This is why harvesting rainfall has become an alternative way for a family home to become water independent. What is harvesting rainwater?

Water shortages are often man-made, for instance too many homes in areas where there has always been a lack of rainfall, creates a need to develop reservoirs or relocate excess water from another area of the country. This is costly, and in an era of austerity plus the gradual warming up of our planet- unaffordable.

A traditional method of guaranteeing a supply of water has been harvesting rainfall, and is thousands of years old. The ancient Egyptian, Mayan and Roman empires used this technique to manage the water supplies of their cities, and towns, through using drainage and catchment systems most of our modern cities use today. However one aspect of rainwater harvesting used thousands of years ago, is becoming a more effective alternative to investing in large scale water projects- home catchment.

Indonesia is home to over 225 million people, and is larger than Europe in size, except it is a nation of over 17,000 islands, surrounded by sea. Many of these islands are undeveloped, and depend on agriculture, and fishing for a living, whilst it is unaffordable to develop running water to all the homes. That's where a simple and modified ancient home rainfall harvesting program has had effective results.

One of these islands suffered for decades from a prolonged dry season, and a short four month rainy season. The rainwater from the wet season, if harvested could provide enough water for each household, and allow communities to become completely independent from 'importing" costly water from a nearby island.

Harvesting was simple, even crude compared to the modern techniques used to recycle water in today's urban centers. Homes were simply fitted with a simple bamboo pipe, that caught the rainfall from the roofs of each home, and it naturally flowed into storage units near each home. Once the rainwater was stored, a pipe would be connected to these storage tanks to taps inside the house. Today, communities on this island, have their own independent water supply, and are water rich, instead of dependent.

Recent reports by the World Future Society claim that by the year 2020, water could become as valuable as oil, because of the effects of an increasing world population, a decline in natural forests, and the unsustainable use of water in many of our countries. This trend is reversible, despite the lack of funds many governments have, and the continued growth of cities.

Reversing the possibility that homeowners may one day, need to ration or pay premium rates for the water they use, could be solved by every home using a water catchment pipe, and linking it to a communal or independent storage unit. Something our ancient ancestors knew and practiced thousands of years ago, and like the water independent residents of a remote Indonesian island, guarantee that we use what nature gives us, rather then waste a valuable resource such as rain water.

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