Harvesting rain ‘green’ option

Erin Pawlikowski

As environmental awareness becomes ever more popular in day-to-day living practices, it isn’t hard to initiate a conversation amongst your peers and family about any given “green” topic.
As a student in Ecosystem Management Technology, I have taken a personal interest and made a lifestyle choice towards sustainability, and would like to promote and inform Times’ readers on the subject of harvesting and using rainwater.
There are various methods of how to approach the idea of water conservation, from simple changes to your everyday routine, or taking your commitment to the next level with the installation of new technologies.
Harvesting rainwater can be described as accumulating, gathering, and storage of rainwater. In the 1980s and early ’90s, it wasn’t uncommon to be unaware of what rainwater harvesting (RWH) meant, and why it soon would become important to collect rainwater, especially in urban areas.
One of the easiest ways to start conserving water through rainwater harvesting is by buying a rainwater cistern, or possibly making one yourself.
The advantage of using one of these shows itself on your monthly water bill! If you’re excited about your vegetable garden or love a vibrant flower bed, then this option may be for you.
They are designed to be placed at the bottom of your eavestrough and simply catch the water when it rains. Over the course of a summer with an average season of rainfall, your garden will see itself quenched.
Water in these cisterns is protected by falling debris, algae, and mosquitoes, which are attracted to standing water and could spread disease to humans, through the help of a small sieve screen.
Other efforts being made around the world with respect to RWH are the installation of a harvesting system on your property.
RWH systems don’t have to be expensive or complicated. The typical system contains four major subsystems: capturing the water as it falls, conveyance from the roof to the holding tank, holding water that has been collected in an appropriately-sized tank for your needs, and lastly, distribution from your underground holding tank into your household for use.
Most holding tanks are made from polypropylene, but if you are interested in using a more environmentally-friendly material, tanks made from recycled plastic also are available.
According to the Program on Water Governance Factsheet, Canadians rank second only to the U.S. in highest per capita water use.
For a human to survive, the approximate amount of fresh water needed is five litres per day (lcd). However, to meet food preparation, sanitation, and bathing needs, we require a minimum of 50-80 lcd.
But in 2001, the average Canadian use was 335 litres per day.
All of the water that we use for these purposes has been treated by your municipality according to provincial drinking water standards, meaning more energy and money consumed, the more that is used unnecessarily.
“HarvestH20” promotes the advantages of implementing RWH and water conservation methods into communities and urban areas, which lessen the demand for chemically-treated water during peak hours and drought seasons, increase moisture in the soil to provide more urban greenery, improve the quality of groundwater, and increase the groundwater table through artificial recharge.
In your own neighborhood, RWH systems can be used for laundry, flushing toilets, and bathing.
It is very important for the public to be aware that what every little bit you do matters while, at the same time, every little bit you do not do matters exponentially.
Some of the first steps to that difference begins with a formal education in the classroom, and works its way through peers generations.
The next approach is informal education, and this is obtained by involving citizens in discussions and seminars to local groups at community events.
Middle schools and high schools may apply the technology on a local level, leading the way with examples.
Become involved—and do something different.
Editor’s note: Erin Pawlikowski is a former resident of Fort Frances. She currently is a student in Ecosystem Management Technology at Fleming College in Lindsay, where she also has earned her Environmental Technician diploma.