Green Term Defined: Rainwater Harvesting

Rain water harvesting is the collection of water for reuse before it reaches the aquifer.

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Uses include landscape irrigation, car washing, flushing toilets, drinking water, and / or washing clothes. Rain water provides protection against short-term droughts for keeping your garden alive. It can also reduce the impact of run off in neighborhood streams and ponds. A rain water collection system can also be used in the event that public water supply becomes unusable or polluted.

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Rain water harvesting systems are easy to set up. You need a collection system like a gutter and roof and a storage system like a barrel or cistern. Adding a filter can prolong the life of your storage system and reduce the first flush pollutants from getting into the system.


In some areas in the mid-west it is illegal to collect rain water. Charlottesville now has a Storm water Fee based on your impervious surface on your property. This fee may be reduced by having a rainwater harvesting system on your property.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. J.M. Snell says:

    Rain harvesting is something we should promote aggressively. I don’t think we should “code” require it because it will prevent some buyers from realizing the American dream of home ownership. Most localities will be offering some type of rain tax credit for this type of individual effort which might have a financial return on investment.


  2. Rainwater harvesting can be accomplished with a plastic tub under a downspout or a sophisticated system including filtration and storage. The idea is to use the water coming from your roof on days when you need water and none is falling from the sky. This is not a code issue or a cost issue. It can be done on any budget and does not impact the dream of home ownership.

    The storm water fees that are becoming a normal thing in localities is another issue all together. This is a way to fund the clean up of the Chesapeake Bay. Localities that do not require and have not required any filtration of storm run off from parking lots, roof tops, or farms or even our newly fertilized front yards directly into our waterways are now being required to institute a standard to avoid these pollutants from entering the waterways. Whether the current standards go to far or not far enough and who should pay for it should be discussed in a public forum and has been debated for years. I am in the industry and I see the entire issue as complicated and hard to completely understand. There is no way someone outside the industry is going to easily understand all the aspects of this problem and the solution being implemented. To many it will just be another fee added onto them without benefit. To others, it will be too little too late – especially those that need the bay for living.


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