8. Bushman Rain Harvesting
Every winter, millions of gallons of rainwater falls on residential and commercial properties and is treated as waste-water. It is quickly dispelled from the property and begins a downhill journey towards the San Francisco Bay. Along the way this once clean rainwater travels over parking lots, through creeks and streams, collecting organic and inorganic materials until it reaches its final destination. In many Bay Area cities this stormwater can combine with sewage systems and cause environmental problems.
Every summer, cities and counties implore their residents to use less water. Precious treated water is used on thirsty lawns and gardens. Almost half of residential water consumption is used to irrigate landscapes in the dry summer months.
Bushman Rain Harvesting manufactures sturdy aboveground rain tanks that allow the safe collection and storage of clean winter rain to be used for irrigation in the summer. The collection of rainwater also reduces the volume of stormwater.
Rainwater harvesting has been practiced since the beginnings of civilization. In the last 150 years, modern communities have become reliant on centralized dams supplying the entire population. However, as cities have grown and infrastructure has aged, these centralized water supplies are reaching their limits. Northern California climate is subject to a pattern of floods and droughts. A long term drought period, or the continued demand for water throughout the state, will push the capacities of existing water storage facilities and Californian’s will be forced to dramatically reduce water consumption.
If individual residents and businesses begin collecting winter rain and safely storing it on their property then the use of treated water for landscape irrigation can be reduced dramatically. At the same time, decentralized rainwater storage can slow the flow of stormwater during peak rain events.
Californians are always surprised to hear that in many cases, even the largest commercial water storage tank of 10,000 gallons would be filled from the rain collected on an average 1,500sq ft Bay Area home. For example, for every inch of rain on that roof, 900 gallons would travel to the downspouts. With an average of 22 inches of annual rainfall, this house in San Francisco could collect 19,800 gallons of rainwater! So the supply of rainwater is not a problem.
The problem is how to collect and safely store as much of this untreated rainwater as we can fit on a property with limited space. Bushman Rain Harvesting has developed a range of tanks in different shapes and sizes, and even colors, to fit into most suburban properties. These above ground rain tanks range in capacity from 205 gallons to 3,000 gallons. Some tanks are the traditional round and tall variety, while others provide 600 gallons of storage but are only 4ft tall, others are no wider than 25 inches and can be positioned under the eaves along the side of the building.
Bushman Rain Harvesting tanks are manufactured in California and come with a 10 year warranty. The tanks are constructed with a food grade quality, UV resistant polyethylene to protect the water as it is stored until it is needed in the drier months.
Above ground tanks are easy to install in existing buildings and are much less expensive than below ground installation. The traditional round tanks are usually as round as they are tall and can safely be installed on a foundation of gravel. The Bushman slimline tanks are attached to the building for seismic safety, not unlike a residential water heater. Most cities and counties do not require a permit for residential rain tanks under 5,000 gallons.
Before the rainwater even enters the tank, it is important to minimize the amount of contaminants in the water. Bushman has developed a product that automatically diverts the first flush of rainfall from the roof and separates it from the tank. The diverter will collect dust, organic matter and roof material that will not enter the tank. All Bushman Rain Harvesting tanks include a debris basket to filter water as it enters the tank and all outlets are screened so that insects and small animals cannot enter the tank. By ensuring the water entering the tank is clean and reducing the amount of light entering the tank, the water is able to be stored for a longer period of time. Bushman tanks can safely store March rainfall for use on the garden in July.
Property owners will need to maintain regular maintenance by cleaning gutters and unclogging downspouts but in many cases the first flush diverter and debris baskets will catch the majority of contaminants. No major plumbing changes are required as with greywater systems. Tanks rarely require a cleanout of the inside and chemical cleaners should never be used. The goal of rainwater harvesting is to collect untreated water.
Gardeners are very enthusiastic for rain harvesting. The untreated rainwater provides wonderful irrigation that will not disrupt the delicate soil ecology. By installing a rain harvesting system and complimenting it with smart irrigation controllers, drip systems and native plants, property owners can dramatically reduce their overall water consumption. Cities, such as Seattle and Oakland, are encouraging residents to installing rain harvesting tanks to reduce urban stormwater run-off.
Some Bay Area cities are leading the way in rainwater harvesting. For several years, the City of Palo Alto has had a rebate program for their residents wishing to install rain tanks. The City of Oakland recently completed a project that provided almost 1,000 rain tanks at a subsidized price to their residents. The city also encouraged a number of schools, businesses and the Chabot Space Museum to install larger rainwater harvesting systems to take advantage of the catchment size of their roofs.
Why it should be recognized:
Bushman Rainwater Harvesting tanks are a simple solution to a growing problem of reliable water supply for many Californians. Above ground rain tanks are easy to install, simple to maintain and lower in price than other conservation programs such as solar. Rain tanks provide a safe source of water that can be used to offset treated, city-water being used to irrigate gardens, while at the same time slowing the flow of run-off so that rainwater has a chance to infiltrate the soil and restore the bay area aquifers.
Major city utilities such as Seattle, Washington and Oakland, California have selected Bushman Rain Harvesting tanks as the solution for their residents. Bushman tanks have almost 15 years field service, are designed for urban properties, come with a manufacturer’s warranty of 10 years and are manufactured in California.
Bushman Rain Harvesting tanks are not the only solution to California’s water problems but a decentralized collection, storage and supply of water will reduce the load on the aging infrastructure and help prepare Californians for an inevitable drought.