Rainwater Harvesting in Texas–A Practical Approach to Water Shortage
For centuries, people have relied on rainwater harvesting to supply water for household, landscape, livestock, and agricultural uses. Before the advent of large centralized water supply systems, rainwater was collected from roofs and stored on site in tanks known as cisterns. With the development of large, reliable water treatment and distribution systems and more affordable well drilling equipment, rain harvesting was all but forgotten, even though it offered a source of pure, soft, low-sodium water.
A renewed interest in this time-honored approach of collecting water has emerged in Texas and elsewhere because of escalating environmental and economic costs of providing water by centralized water systems or by well drilling. The health benefits of rainwater, and potential cost savings associated with rainwater collection systems have further spurred this interest.
An Outstanding Texas Application of Rainwater Harvesting
Native American Seed, founded in 1988 by Jan and Bill Neiman, specializes in native wildflower and prairie grass seeds from the Texas-Oklahoma-Louisiana region. In mid 2011, as the drought in the area took hold, the scarcity of drinking water became an issue and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality began curtailing the watering of all native wildflower and prairie grass seed crop. Acting proactively, Native American Seed voluntarily cut back its farm production and – going a step farther – began to explore a more sustainable source of future water supply for its operations. They settled on rainwater harvesting.
The system that Native American Seed installed has a 30,000-gallon Pioneer Galaxy® tank, a 55-gallon first flush diverter, a 12V pump powered by a 185-watt solar panel, two sediment filters, one carbon filter, and an ultraviolet lamp. The pump and the treatment system are housed in a new pump house that was constructed of dry stacked cinder blocks with a plaster of surface bonding cement to insulate the pumping and filtration system in the pump house. The rainwater harvesting system is designed to meet up to 85% of the water demand (potable and non-potable) at the seed-cleaning plant.
Adapted from Texas Water Development Board News.