What are Rainwater Harvesting Systems?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Rainwater harvesting systems are equipment setups that people use to collect and distribute rainwater. A rainwater harvesting system may include wide rainwater catchment pieces and gutters, as well as a rain barrel or rainwater cistern for storing collected water. Rainwater collection is a way to harness more of the Earth's natural resources, rather than relying on larger collective water treatment processes for the entirety of a water supply.

Rainwater harvesting systems are popular in arid climates where an abundant supply of water may not be available for an entire population. Certain rainwater harvesting methods are endorsed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other government groups. Recent laws have promoted the use of rainwater harvesting systems, for example, by clarifying that holding water rights is not generally necessary in order to collect and distribute rainwater on a property.

Popular rainwater harvesting systems may include simple equipment attachments that will use a roof slope, or other normal property feature, to collect water. These systems may also include a water treatment element. Various alternative water treatment options are feasible for residential or commercial buildings not linked up to a public water source.


Advocates of rainwater harvesting continue to look at what is needed in order to promote this kind of water conservation. In the long list of helpful components for promoting rainwater harvesting, advocacy groups include a need for skilled trainers, demonstrating facilities, and financial assistance from government and business. A wide variety of small and large rainwater harvesting initiatives promote themselves through online outreach to a public reading audience.

Rainwater harvesting advocacy groups study trends in rainwater collection to see what's most likely to increase this practice. Some of them report that individual homeowners like to take advantage of easy-to-install “single source systems.” Consumers often hire a skilled contractor to outfit a property with an entire rainwater harvesting equipment setup. Shoppers tend to avoid systems where they have to buy each piece separately from a retailer. Knowledge of these kinds of trends helps providers of rainwater harvesting equipment to reach their intended target audience.

As water supplies continue to experience fluctuation, particularly in areas like the American Southwest, engineers and public officials will continue to look at rainwater harvesting as an option for continuing to supply water resources to a population. Each municipality needs to look critically at their own water resources, and how to best handle them. Households that do not want to be entirely reliant on municipal water also may choose rainwater harvesting as a means of collecting their own water for household use.


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