old Texas rainwater cistern
When you live in a sun-scorched state like Texas, every drop of water counts. Luckily, we have had a few rain showers recently to soak the ground before the heat hits again. Did you know that it is in our blood as Texans to collect rainwater? Not that long ago Texans used cisterns for their water use in rural Texas. You don’t have to look too far to see the evidence.
Not the rainiest state by any means, Texas does tend to have more rainfall in the fall and late spring. In Austin, for example, the heaviest months for rain are October, May, and June, with its worst being July in the dead of summer. The trouble with a Texas rainstorm is that we can get an incredible amount of rainfall in a very short amount of time. Those four inches that Texans will see this October can happen in an instant with one or two storms over the period of a couple hours or less. This can cause a great deal of run-off, erosion, and even contamination of surface water as storm water flows over pollutants and are flushed into various bodies of water.
Ancient rainwater collection
Rainwater collection means we can more readily take advantage of the rain when we do get it, more efficiently using it as we need it. Also known as rainwater harvesting, this water supply alternative has been slowly gaining traction all around the country over the past decade. The capture, diversion and storage of rainwater actually trace back to the time of the Romans and the Greeks, but as water irrigation practices improved, the reliance on rainwater greatly diminished. However, rainwater collection was common practice not so long ago for most if not all rural Texans. If you were to drive around in the country and see the turn of the century houses that are being restored or torn down for new development you’ll see cisterns, the rain collection systems of the past. Rainwater was used strictly for cooking and drinking, and well and tank (pond) water was used for other household purposes. Even ponds are collection and storage of water by savvy Texans! It’s in our blood and in our history to collect this precious resource. What we see today though are large, arid cities reaching out further and further to rain-fed areas to supply their growing demand for potable water. Why go to such lengths when some of that water can come from the rain in our very own backyards? Let’s take a hint from decades ago and start capturing rainwater again!
Rainwater collection or harvesting is about using what’s available and placing less demand on municipal water supplies. The more water you can collect, the more water you can redirect to then irrigate your yard. That can be a huge savings not only on your local water supply, but also on your water bill. It should be noted that harvested rainwater is not considered potable, and will still require some type of water treatment once it has been collected.
The key to rainwater harvesting is the use of a cistern. The cistern is just a larger system and incorporates pumps and filtering. A professional rainwater collection installer can easily inform you on all that you need, including proper installation and optimization of your system. It is common for customers to combine installing solar and rainwater so they get both systems at the same time. At NATiVE, our energy specialists can help you to bundle these services to get exactly the system you want. Isn’t it time you learn how to live well with your environment and not against it? Be NATiVE.