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Should Commercial Properties Harvest Rainwater to Save Money?

Installing a system to harvest rainwater on a commercial building can supplement a high percentage of the building’s non-potable water use. Commercial properties do not require as much potable water as households, since most of the water supplied is used for cleaning, irrigation, landscaping, flushing toilets or industrial purposes. A rainwater recycling system could give commercial properties an advantage by saving money in the interim and presenting a long-term water solution with environmental benefits.

Groundwater Depletion

In arid regions of the United States, groundwater supply has decreased rapidly. Depleted groundwater resources have greatly affected the Colorado River Basin, including Arizona, California, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada and New Mexico. Experts have measured groundwater lowering at a rate of 5.6 cubic kilometers per year. Groundwater does not replenish quickly. It takes thousands of years to restore the supply.

When an imbalance occurs in an area’s water resources, restrictions on water usage are soon to follow. Rainwater harvesting offers a concrete solution to groundwater depletion, especially for businesses that require hefty water supplies to operate.

Benefits of Harvested Rainwater

The most obvious perk to using rainwater is the cost: it’s free. No current restrictions bar the use of collecting, treating and reusing rain that falls on your property. The only cost is the initial installation of the system and regular upkeep and maintenance.

Rainwater is lacking the chemicals and acids of groundwater. Whereas groundwater is hard, rainwater is soft. Without the acids contained in groundwater, rainwater will not have the same eroding effects on equipment.

When large quantities of water from rain or melting snow run over streets, it is gradually contaminated. Storm runoff that makes its way to streams and rivers or seeps into the ground can contaminate local water supplies and have negative environmental effects. Collecting rainwater reduces detrimental storm water runoff, helping to negate this problem.

Depending on your municipality’s regulations, rainwater harvesting systems may qualify for tax incentives and benefits, further reducing annual business costs.

Engineering a Rainwater Recycling System for Your Property

To harvest rainwater from your building, you will need a system tailored to your property’s specifications. The engineer will assess certain aspects of your building, including the surface area of the roof, the amount of annual rainfall in your location, and the regular water usage needs of the property. The systems to harvest rainwater vary from underground cisterns to above-ground tanks.

For every inch of rain on 1 square foot, 0.6 gallons of water result. After one inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot building, your rainwater harvest system would produce 600 gallons of water. For a geographic location averaging 18 inches of rain per year, 10,800 gallons of water could be reused for building operations. Investing in a way to harvest rainwater can provide businesses with sustainable, enduring water reserves.

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