These days money is tight for most of us. While we rack our brains for ways to supplement our income there are many options that we commonly share such as playing the lottery, changing car insurance, or potentially getting a second job. Although slightly less obvious, there is another option to consider that is literally pouring all around us. Harvesting rain water will not only help the environment, but will save you money as well.
Individuals can collect a substantial amount of rainwater with a simple system. This extra water will have a significant impact on your water bill. Additionally, the use of rainwater combined with the domestic use of grey water can further increase your savings. Rain water harvesting is effective not only for your personal residence, but for the greater community you live in as well. Onondaga County, home of Syracuse, NY, has launched a ‘Save the Rain’ campaign to dramatically reduce the amount of water run-off resulting from storms that currently overload the sewer system and causes runoff into Onondaga Lake.
Save the Rain aspires to raise the public’s awareness and understanding of what they can do to help reduce storm water runoff and improve the environment. Since 1998, Onondaga County has completed over 30 projects to improve sewage conveyance and treatment at a cost of over $300 million. This has resulted in major improvements in the water quality of Onondaga Lake, due to reduced levels of phosphorus and ammonia. Since the implementation of the Save the Rain campaign, the Lake has increased water clarity and oxygen levels, and decreased algae. This is exciting progress, but more work needs to be done, and that’s where you come in.
By implementing a simple rain water collection system, every resident of Onondaga County can play an important and meaningful role in helping clean Onondaga Lake. Catching rainwater before it runs off into the street reduces pollutants in the urban runoff, which in turn cuts our reliance on water treatment and storage systems, and restores underground water supplies. Research has shown that if the “first flush” of runoff is caught, it stops 90% of the pollution otherwise washed from roofs and streets into storm drains. A rainwater-catchment study for Portland, OR, discovered that two 55-gallon rain barrels would be enough to flush most household toilets (our biggest home water consumers), and could divert 30% of the city’s storm water, delaying the need for a major upgrade to the city’s storm-water system. Consider installing rain barrels at your apartment or house and be part of the solution rather than the problem.
For more information, including how to install a rain barrel and how to use the rain water you collect to your benefit, check out Rain Barrel Guide.