Posted by: rainworks | April 19, 2015

China’s struggle for water security

Peter parks /AFP/file

It’s not only this above depiction of water resource pollution, but the following article points out Agricultural and Industrial pollutions clouding our global fresh water supplies. We seem to only visibly notice the contaminations after we draw our water from the earth after it had fallen from the sky. What if we compared the Agricultural and Industrial polluted water resources to harvested Rainwater?

The following article reflects that it’s not only single countries or cities, but that it is a global crisis.

Posted by: rainworks | March 25, 2015

This is a really big deal.

California has become synonymous with the word drought in the past four years. With no indication that the drought will end anytime soon, the state has turned to rather desperate measures to keep water flowing. Restaurants are no longer permitted to bring customers water if they do not expressly ask for it, and violators of new water usage regulations are subject to a $500 fine. This situation has become so shockingly bad that Californians have no other choice but to pump water from prehistoric aquifers, just to meet supply needs.

In case you missed it: this is a really big deal.

Yet, amidst California’s growing thirst, bottled water companies still seem to be pumping and packaging water from the San Bernardino National Forest … in California. How is it that a state so drought stricken can afford to pass water supplies to bottled water distributors? Simply put, they can’t (and possibly didn’t even know it was happening).

A recent investigation in the Desert Sun found that Nestlé Waters North America has been pumping water from this pristine streams of this national forest with little to no oversight by the U.S. Forestry Services. While Nestlé has held the rights to extract water from this national park for years, their official permit to transport water from the stream to their bottling plantexpired in 1988. Between 1988 and now, tens of millions of gallons of water have been drawn from this stream annually and sold under the Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring Water label. Although Nestlé asserts that they do monitor water levels and the impact on local wildlife, it seems more than a little irresponsible to leave this task up to the company that profits from exploiting this natural resource.

So what’s really going on here?

How Taking Water Supplies Impacts the Local Ecosystem

Wait What? Nestlé is Pumping Millions of Gallons of Water From California's National Parks and No One Seems to Care?David Vosti/Flickr

The impact of California’s drought spans far beyond humans. Native wildlife have also suffered immensely due to lack of food and water resources. Local salmon populations have dropped by 12 percent, deer populations have decreased nearly 75 percent, and waterfowl populations have dropped significantly. The loss of these species has a ripple effect, which can lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem if efforts aren’t made to restore the balance. Seeing as how California would need 11 trillion gallons of water to end their current drought crisis, restoring this balance seems nearly impossible.

In the San Bernardino National Forest, many species rely on Strawberry Creek as a source of water.

Steve Loe, a retired Forest Service employee explained to the Desert Sun that frogs, salamanders, insects, birds such as willow flycatchers and Bell’s vireo are just some of them. During his days with the Forest Service, he saw the Santa Ana speckled dace go extinct from the river after a series of wildfires and floods. Although these natural events played a role in the loss of the species, Loe suspects that if Nestlé had not depleted water levels in the creek to such an extent, the dace would have survived the summer.

Age-Old Oversight

800px-Mill_Creek_drainage,_San_Bernardino_National_ForestWikimedia Commons

Nestlé is required to submit reports on water usage in the park, but the Forest Service has not closely tracked how much water is actually being taken from the creek. When the pipe was first installed around 1906, an environmental impact assessment was not performed and the modern service hasn’t carried out a study to gauge the pipeline’s impact on native wildlife since.

If we do not know how much water is needed to sustain a healthy ecosystem, how can we justify allowing 705 millions of gallons of water to be funneled into bottles, annually? (Especially in the middle of a serious drought, and especially because we don’t need more bottled water or plastic bottles!)

Essentially, Nestlé is pumping millions of gallons of public water from a drought stricken area and reselling it in the form of bottles to consumers. Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds.

Bottling water is an incredibly unsustainable business, and if no one (aside from the people profiting) is monitoring how much water is being extracted from delicate ecosystems, then we’re setting ourselves up for disaster.

The Shocking “Unknown” Impact of Bottling Freshwater Supplies 

5233546650_e1d6866282_zSteve Depolo/Flickr

While the Nestlé news in California has garnered a significant amount of media attention, this is hardly the only instance where bottled water companies have taken precedence over local ecosystems.

Crystal Geyser Water Company opened a facility in Mount Shasta in 2014, much to the dismay of local residents, without performing an environmental impact report. Like Nestlé, Crystal Geyser is not closely monitored by the Forest Service but submits water usage reports. According to the Forest Service, the impact of the company’s water use on groundwater supplies and aquifers is “unknown.” Apparently, “unknown” is the new “okay.”

According to the National Resources Defence Council, “Other springs in national forests across the country have been tapped for use by bottled water companies, including Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin, Ocala National Forest in Florida, Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, and Sumter National Forest in South Carolina. Information on the consequences is hard to come by.”

Converting public waters into private products is a major issue in the U.S., and the lack of transparency is troubling to say the least.

What You Can Do

Over 1,500 water bottles are consumed in the U.S. every second. We are well aware of the role that plastic bottles play in marine pollution, and as we learn about how their production impacts natural resources it becomes clear that we need to find an alternative.

Luckily, we can all help to reduce our personal impact and slow the demand for bottled water by simply opting for a reusable water bottle. A single reusable bottle can replace 167 plastic water bottles a year (and save you a ton of money). If everyone in the U.S. made this one simple switch, we could significantly reduce the demand for bottled water and see a drop in the resources drained from national parks and reduction in landfill waste. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us.

If the Forest Service isn’t going to be accountable for how our public water supplies are used, it’s up to us to pick up the slack. We can all make a difference by being mindful of our consumption habits and their downstream impacts. Making one small switch in our habits can set us up for an exponential improvement.

Lead image source: Don Graham/Flickr

March 24 at 5:52 PM 

Do you live in Colorado? Does it rain on your house? Do the drops patter off the roof, compose romantic puddles on your porch?

Guess what: That water isn’t yours. You can’t have it. And you most certainly cannot set out a tank to catch what falls from the sky, you thief.

Water laws are so strict in Colorado that rainwater collection is virtually prohibited. The doctrine is written into the state’s Constitution. All the rain is already spoken for. It belongs to someone, and that someone probably isn’t you. So don’t you touch it.

“The rain barrel is the bong of the Colorado garden,” local columnist Dave Philipps wrote in 2007. “It’s legal to sell one. It’s legal to own one. It’s just not legal to use it for its intended purpose.”

That might change soon, slightly.

On Monday, Colorado representatives voted to allow people to store up to 110 gallons of the rainwater that flows off their roof. One hundred gallons is on the high end of how much water a person in America uses per day. It’s about three tubs full of water, or four loads of laundry.

Rain barrel legalization will not save the world, nor even Colorado, where already the law against rainwater collection is rarely enforced. H.B. 1259might not even pass Colorado’s Senate. But it’s a symbolic step toward a more modern way of thinking about water in America’s dry Western states.

In the West, water belongs to someone

The principle at stake is called prior appropriation, which is legalese for “first come, first served.” This doctrine forms the bedrock of water law in the Western states, where long ago settlers raced to gobble up all the water rights. Prior appropriation helps explain  why water-intensive agriculture is still a major industry in a place as arid as the West: Many of the early claimants were farmers seeking to irrigate their crops.

These days, with drought parching the region, there’s hardly enough water to go around. According to the law, the people who get first dibs are the ones who called it first, which tend to be the agricultural users and not the city dwellers.

In Colorado, other people’s water rights even extend to the raindrops that fall onto your  roof.

Why? Because those raindrops might tumble into the gutter; they might seep into the ground; might, in some other eventual, serpentine fashion, find their way to a river where somebody’s great-great-grandfather once established a claim.

Legal experts have long criticized the Wild West principle of prior appropriation. They say that the tradition of dibsies is incongruent with the way that people demand water in the 21st century.

“It’s this very rigid, very old system of water rights that hasn’t really changed that much in over a century,” said Reed Benson, a law professor at the University of New Mexico.

“Prior appropriation is so deeply embedded in Western water law,” said Robert Glennon, a law professor at the University of Arizona. “We academics criticize it but it’s not going anywhere.”

Benson has studied all the different ways that Western states have grappled with an increasingly stale idea like prior appropriation, which allocates water according to seniority instead of need. Bills legalizing rainwater collection are an example of how legislators have sought to carve exceptions into that way of thinking. (California passed a similar law in 2012.)

“There are a lot of good, practical, common-sense arguments in favor of a bill like this,” Benson said. “The fact that it’s controversial, the fact that it’s taken this long, shows you how well-entrenched that old tenacious legal system is.”

Whose idea was this, anyway?

Some laws are crafted by Congress; but the system of water rights in the West is a lesson in how customs can calcify into legal doctrine.

As the story goes, the dibsies approach to water management dates to the California Gold Rush. Flowing water has long been a gold miner’s best friend: As it cuts through the landscape, it picks up pebbles, dust, and occasionally, specks of something more precious.

These treasures end up naturally at the bottom of riverbeds, waiting to be sorted out of the sediment. During the 1849 Gold Rush, prospectors schlepped across the country to pan for those rare glints in California’s streams.

Miners of means sought to speed up the process. They set up high-pressure hoses to blast entire cliff sides. The runoff would flow through boxes that caught any gold fragments washed loose.

Hydraulic mining harmed the environment and placed exorbitant demands on a dry region’s water resources. The practice eventually fell out of favor, but not before it made a lasting impact on water law.

To feed their thirsty operations, miners dug channels that siphoned water from sources that could be miles away. They followed an apportioning rule carried over from mining principles. The first person to dig his canal was entitled to whatever water he carried away.

Eventually, Western states began to recognize and regulate this practice. They parceled out permits to surface water in the order and quantities that people came to claim it. As settlers arrived to start irrigated farms on parched soil, people continued to treat water as its own and separate property right: Just because you owned the land didn’t mean you owned the water.

The Eastern states, in contrast, were wet enough that they regarded surface water as a shared, inexhaustible resource (as in the common-law tradition, imported from soggy England). They did not keep tabs on how much water anyone took out of a river. People who owned land next to a river were free to use that river’s water in any reasonable fashion, as long as it didn’t affect their neighbors.

Though it’s maligned today, the system of prior appropriation suited the West’s arid climate. Unlike in the Eastern states, settlers could not rely on what streams, if any, ran through their property. They needed a legal system that allowed them to bring in water from far afield. Furthermore, water was scarce enough that it had to be measured out, which called for an orderly system of permits. These rights were given to those who would use the water productively — to irrigate a field, or to supply a mine.

In theory, prior appropriation made sure that water wasn’t wasted. People could not simply claim part of a river and divert it onto their property. They had to show that they had plans for the water, and that their plans did not interfere with the designs of the people who came before them.

Only then would they get rights to the water — and only enough water to serve their needs. As long as they continue putting the water to work, those rights are theirs forever.

Decades later, the unforeseen consequences

Fast forward 150 years to the present, when nearly every river basin has been burdened with claim on top of claim. Cue a record-breaking drought.

Prior appropriation has no provision for shared water conservation; the priority system is strict. During dry times, someone with a senior claim gets to suck down her full allotment. The people down the line might get nothing.

(In Colorado, she’s even entitled to the rain that falls onto her neighbor’s roofs. That rain, by law, must be allowed to flow unimpeded into the river for her to use.)

Critics say this system encourages waste. People with senior water rights don’t have any reason to cut back on their water use. (In practice the system is a bit looser, Illinois Institute of Technology law professor Dan Tarlock notes. It’s frowned upon to completely hog the water, even if someone has the legal right to do so. There’s some cooperation among growers.)

Consider the situation in California, where last week the governor imposed mandatory water conservation rules. Residents may not water their lawns more than a couple times a week. Restaurants can no longer serve water unless patrons specifically ask for it. If these measures don’t work, the state will consider punishing people with fines.

Yet, as the Economist noted last year, agriculture guzzles 80 percent of the water that California pumps, while representing only 2 percent of the state’s economic activity. Cities are responsible for most of the growth in the West, but irrigated farms still account for most of the water used.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has set a goal for homeowners to cut back on water consumption by 20 percent; but even if every suburbanite complies, the reduction would mostly be symbolic.

“There’s a strong push to conserve municipal demand in part to send a message, because that’s where the people are,” said Benson. “But also because that’s viewed as easier to accomplish. Agricultural water conservation is hard to do: in part because it’s expensive, and in part because the law doesn’t incentivize conservation.”

Posted by: rainworks | March 22, 2015

Start Building Homes Designed for RWH

“When you build new homes today, you really ought to consider putting the plumbing in (for rainwater),” Combest said. Makes complete sense! 

Add it to the resale value of the home. With proper sustainable construction, Educated people will realize the value can only go up in the future. Not only will new homes benefit from RWH designs, but older homes can be retrofitted for RWH using existing plumbing, but a backflow preventer valve would be required when attached to a commercial/community water supply.

Not only will new homes benefit from RWH designs, but older homes can be retrofitted for RWH using existing plumbing, but a backflow preventer valve would be required when attached to a commercial/community water supply. Soon to be available will be a complete install kit from gutter to Cistern (Rain Water Harvesting tank(s), similar to:

Just today:

A friend who knows about these things told me this morning that water bills here will rise 30% over next six months, and may triple over the next year. That’s understandable in terms of supply and demand. California is in the fourth year of a drought. Water is becoming scarce, so its price is rising. Many economists approve of this market approach. As water becomes more expensive, people will have to become more careful in how much they use. But they’re not considering inequality. The savage inequality that’s defacing America is most extreme in California. A tripling of water bills will devastate lower-income families but won’t even be noticed by California’s software-app executives and venture capitalists, who’ll continue to fill up their pools and water their 20-acre estates. If we believe in equal sacrifice, this isn’t the answer. It would be better to ration water on a per-person basis.

As America lurches toward both widening inequality and devastating climate change, these are the kinds of choices we have to make. Rising sea levels will first flood areas inhabited by the poor; scarce arable land will cause food prices to rise, harming the poor most; water shortages will cause bills to soar. We must be aware: Environmental justice is becoming more urgent with each passing day.


NOTE: The only thing Sustainable about Commercial/Community water supplies is; water bills will always have a sustainable INCREASE for investor profits.

Posted by: rainworks | January 21, 2015

Bottled Water Exposed

Click here:

The Story of Bottled Water was co-created and released by The Story of Stuff Project and a coalition of partners, including Corporate Accountability International, Food & Water Watch, Polaris Institute, Pacific Institute and Environmental Working Group. The movie was produced by Free Range Studios.

For a better solution; start with harvesting your own rainwater starting with:

Posted by: rainworks | November 22, 2014

RainBean System Design

Capture it, Don’t let it get away? 

Quality Harvested Rainwater requires a Harvesting Infrastructure that will insure the cleanest water at the Point of Entry (POE) of the water storage Cistern which can be stored over a ‘period of time’ for various uses; be it a non-potable, or a potable resource.

Harvested rainwater should be very clean and not contain; Debris (organic or inorganic), Metallic taste, Hard water tastes and smells, Pharmaceuticals, Pesticides, Herbicides, etc.

Rainwater has a pH generally around 5.6, it is still potable, but it will be slightly acidic (mildly corrosive). Aerating it (from bottom to top) will help increase the pH by increasing the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), and O2 (Oxygen) introduced by aeration. A Neutral pH of about 7 is desirable. There are alternative additives that can be used to control pH levels, and a First Flush device works as well.

The Rainwater Harvesting Infrastructure – Top Down

Preliminary Infrastructure

The Roof: (should use licensed contractors)

Safety and Quality are paramount concerns. This includes equipment and professional knowhow, will generally have required community codes, permits, and inspections. Ensure your contractor is knowledgeable about the use of suitable materials for rainwater harvesting. (See references at bottom of this document.)

The Gutter and Downspouts: (should use licensed contractors)

Proper gutter sizing, knowledge of slope of roofs, normal rain intensity, distances between downspouts/roof perimeter, etc. Ensure your contractor is knowledgeable about the use of suitable materials for rainwater harvesting. The use of “Leaf Guards” is highly recommended. (See references at bottom of this document.)

RainBean System

Secondary Infrastructure

The Diverters:

The First Stage Diverter’s purpose is to remove large debris, such as; leaves, pine needles, twigs, seeds, roof particles, and other contaminants from getting to the pre-filter. The rejected debris is ejected into the downspout, while filling the Second Stage Diverter. This is accomplished through an 18 mesh (0.038in/0.97mm) stainless screen into the chamber containing the Pre-Filter.

The Second Stage Diverter serves two functions; self-cleaning of the Pre-Filter of much finer accumulated debris such as; smaller hayseeds, seed hulls, pollens, smaller roof particles, and directing that finer debris into the downspout, as the rain event recedes. (This eliminates much of the maintenance-required with other filter systems.) However, it is recommended that annual or semi-annual inspection or maintenance be undertaken, otherwise it may only require inspection just prior to normal rainy seasons.

The Pre-Filter

RainBean’s Pre-Filter system uses passive intake for ambient rainfall pressure to extract the rainwater from the Second Stage Diverter chamber, (which is potentially laden with even smaller debris that passed through the First Stage diverter). The Pre-Filter cartridges come in: 80-200 mesh (0.08in/0.18mm) – (0.0029in/0.07mm) in size and are user interchangeable.

At this point one may have about 95-98% rainwater Harvesting efficiency due to the minor diverter wash-off losses.

But then, that is not enough!

For the cleanest rainwater, a First Flush device was added to the RainBean System.

First Flush:

To further improve the quality of the rainwater going into the Cistern, a First Flush device became an integral part of the Harvesting Infrastructure.

This is typically a small tank, of which the initial Pre-Filtered rainwater is first collected during the initial roof wash off cycle (graywater). The tank is sized by a calculation of; roof footprint, roof material type coefficients, and pollution factors. Once that required calculated amount of rainwater fills the First Flush tank, a valve actuates and re-directs remaining Pre-Filtered, improved quality rainwater into the Cistern.

The purpose of RainBean’s First Flush is to collect and withhold any remaining initial cloudy roof wash off rainwater that can contain micro particulate, such as; dust, pollens, bacteria, decomposed insects, soluble bird and vermin droppings, roof/gutter material (Grit and heavy metals), and chemical pesticide and herbicide residue resulting in what can be called greywater.

During and after a rain event, the tank will slowly empty the resulting graywater via a 1-4 GPH drip fitting either directed to a storm drain or landscaping.

Rainwater storage:

A most serious concern when harvesting rainwater is to collect as much as possible when rain events occur.

  • The Cistern or tank farm sizing requires calculation of data: number of users, interior and exterior household water requirements. (Business and commercial clients should require similar calculations.)
  • Research is first required of existing Climate resources to prepare calculations for all rain events monthly and annually per the installation’s location. Monthly sizing should take into consideration the historic driest months of the year, and design the total storage capacity to use cumulative stored rainfall to withstand the needs for those drier months.
  • The RainBean System uses a Damping Aeration input pipe, maintaining oxygenation of the stored rainwater volume at various levels during intermittent rain events. The oxygenation helps destroy any possible harmful bacteria also known as anaerobic activity of which such bacteria cannot survive in a rich oxygen rich environment, and helps raise the pH.
  • The RainBean System also includes a tank overflow downspout, to be the same size as the POE input size. It also uses a simple PVC Backwater Valve to prevent insects and other vermin from entering the cistern from the overflow downspout.

RainBean System Materials:

  • SDR-26 PVC pipe, Schedule 40 PVC pipe and fittings with NSF–pw (Potable Water rating), and Stainless steel screens.
  • The RainBean Slim 3 has a 4” diameter input coupling, which accepts various size gutter input connections, using COTS adapters for 3” diameter, 2” x 3” and 3” X 4” roof downspouts.
  • The bottom has a 3” downspout connection and a 3” connection to the POE of the Cistern.
  • The RainBean is paintable to match any color scheme.
RainBean Slim 3 with Adpt

RainBean Slim 3 with Adpt


The RainBean can be mounted on a standalone pipe or downspout, or mounted to the exterior wall near the gutter output. The RainBean is first connected to the gutter, secondly it is connected to the First Flush Unit, and then to the Cistern. For overflow, it can be connected to the RainBean downspout, or connect to a separate downspout,

A complete installation manual will be included with each RainBean System.

Photo Report During One Rain Event

RainBean instal with labels

RainBean System Configuration

  1. RainBean Dual Stage Diverter/Pre-Filter
  2. Pre-Filter Output
  3. First Flush Tank
  4. End of First Flush – Valve
  5. Clean Water Input Damping Aerator
  6. RainBean Debris discharge downspout
  7. Overflow – with insect, vermin entry protection

RainBean top view

Top view of a RainBean System Configuration

One Rain Event: two roofs, showing capture efficiency.

RainBean Debris discharge downspout showing only dual diverter discharge and First Flush Dripper

RainBean Debris discharge downspout

Rear roof (640 sq. ft), “Rainwater captured”. Diverter discharge and First Flush dripper discharge. (Balance of rain entered Cistern.)


Front roof (537 sq. ft), “NO capture”. All rain directed to a storm drain at same time during the one rain event.

First Month of Harvest Data

(To be announced)

Using Rainwater from the Cistern, Point of Use (POU)

Plumber for POU: (should use licensed contractors)

At the POU Cistern output, it is recommended to include a .5 micron Carbon Block filter which will remove cysts such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, most chemicals, and carbon black particulate (from fossil fuel exhaust). Add a UV filter, for the ultimate sanitization. If attaching to an internal home potable fresh water system while using a public water service, the addition of a back-flow preventer is highly recommended, and is required by law in many locations.


Consumed with my past practical experiences (including failures), learning new and innovative techniques, and with continued research to understand how important rainwater Harvesting is a life saving resource on a highly populated planet. I have designed and built several prototypes to create a quality Rainwater Harvesting System. There always seemed to be just one more component to add or modify. On a limited budget, this latest system design has completed my goal of creating the best of rainwater Harvesting Infrastructures, lead me to finally file for a patent and start testing my final system designs.

A quality built Rain Water Harvesting infrastructure will provide clean water to the storage Cistern(s). Proper sizing of the Cistern(s) should provide clean Rain Water throughout the year. My goal is to achieve a global Rain Water Harvesting System to help stabilize the availability of clean fresh water resources for the inhabitants of this planet. The System will be composed of supplying various kit components, fittings, and instructions to contractors, off the grid customers, and DIY enthusiasts.

Three models of the RainBean will be available.

The RainBean Slim 3, a vertical model, suitable for a roof footprint up to 750 sq. ft.

The RainBean Plus 3, a horizontal model, suitable for a roof footprint up to 1200 sq. ft.

The RainBean Ultra 4, a horizontal model, suitable for a roof footprint up to 2000 sq. ft.

As well, various other required system components will be packaged in several boxes, whether a new complete system, or retrofit an existing preliminary infrastructure. The user need only complete the preliminary infrastructure, size and purchase appropriate storage Cisterns, needed lengths of pipe, install a secure base for above ground Cisterns or in ground Cisterns.

Software Application:

A software application is in development for the PC and Smartphone. This App will help provide the user with the ability to calculate;

  • Roof footprint
  • Roof material type coefficients
  • Pollution factors
  • Size the Cistern(s) for; domestic, agricultural, and commercial facilities
  • Provide component(s) installation metrics; gutter to ground, First Flush, etc
  • Water demands; Indoor and outdoor water use as per user requirements
  • Garden and Landscaping water use for Drip Irrigation components
  • Utilize global climate/weather resources for users location

I welcome comments and questions on this post, and I will maintain future updates.


(Prefiltration standards Linkedin ARCSA)

Denis Rochat

President at rainwater Resources

IGCC 2012 calls for 1500 microns of pre-filtration, ARCSA/ASPE calls for 500 (.5 mm). We utilize Vortex filtration that filters to 280 microns and provides extreme oxygenation. Both are critical for healthy stored water. Successful systems require several steps that make up a process and none can be ignored. I saw a 10,000 gal RWH storage in Roanoke, VA that had not been cleaned for 7 years and provides slime free, odor free, color free water every day. That’s the goal.

American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association ARCSA – Resources and Documents

Texas Water Development Board The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting

Posted by: rainworks | January 1, 2013


What the GMO industry do not want you to know. You only need to ask; why there is so much news about the decline of FOOD resources on this planet. Agra business will not give up on its search to control the food supply.

People can change, cultures can change, and neighborhoods too. Local grown, and marketed foods will help bring people together in a sustainable way of life. At the same time American energy consumption will be greatly reduced with the lack of trucks, refrigerated warehouses, and the like.

Please watch the following, and ponder what you can do in your own back yard, Rain Gardens, bio-swales, deck, or patio kitchen gardens. Mind you, it doesn’t have to be a desert.

Posted by: rainworks | September 14, 2012

Drought Update, Water Restrictions, and more

Maybe I’ve been delinquent in adding posts, but here is one well worth mentioning. I have followed the Texas RWH; concepts, programs, and implementations for years.

Drought Update, Water Restrictions, and Hot Rain: Water News Summary 9/4/12

Water News Summary for September 4, 2012 – Water restrictions in central Texas as drought continues, water policies needed for true conservation.

Thanks to:

Chris Maxwell-Gaines, P.E.

Water Conservation Systems & Sustainable Infrastructure Civil Engineer / Green Entrepreneur

Austin, Texas Area

Owner and Civil Engineer at Innovative Water Solutions LLC



Posted by: rainworks | May 20, 2012

Where has All the fresh water gone.


About 15 feet below ground, the writer makes his way through a tight spot in a cave during his trip to see evidence of falling groundwater levels in the region.

  • Has the natural rainwater recharging system been diverted to Stormwater discharge?

RWH and gray water use will provide for a more natural recharge of our Ground Water and Aquifer resources.

  • Has the use of underground water resources for irrigation and residential and Industrial development dried up our natural Aquifers?

Require agricultural users to create their own reservoirs and Industrial washing applications to also require private reservoirs and promote RWH and greywater use.

  • Do these activities contribute to the increase of Sinkholes? Without a doubt!

See the following news article relating to the above photo.

Dry empty caves offer to grim proof of Tampa Bays groundwater decline

By Dan DeWitt, Times Columnist May 20, 2012
In Print: Sunday, May 20, 2012

In Thornton’s Cave, in southern Sumter County, you see beams of light streaming through holes in the ceiling, worn by thousands of years of steadily flowing water.

You see that the bottom half of the tunnel is almost as white as chalk, scoured by that same steady flow.

At the end of the one-third-mile-long cave, you see where the spring run once emerged. And you see that the run’s bed is not only dry, but covered by grass, weeds and opportunistic seedlings.

“I used to be afraid of this cave because you had to worry about cottonmouths and alligators,” Robert Brooks said with a shrug, meaning, obviously, that’s not a problem now.

Brooks, 38, has been wriggling into every crack in the earth he could find since he was a 10-year-old kid growing up in Brooksville.

We hear from the Southwest Florida Water Management District about the steadily declining groundwater levels, now nearly 2 feet below the bottom of the normal range for this time of year.

Brooks, one of the most experienced cavers in the state, recently led me and Times photographer Will Vragovic to see this decline.

Our view under the ground — at Thornton’s and at Crumbling Rock Cave in southern Citrus County — was as grim as the sight of the steadily shrinking rivers and lakes on the surface.

Or more so, because groundwater isn’t supposed to be as prone to fluctuation and is, of course, the source of almost all of the state’s drinking water.

One other thing, unsurprisingly, is the same above ground and below: the cause of the falling water levels, which is pumping and a long-term slump in rainfall.

Both caves are in Swiftmud’s Northern District, which includes Hernando and five other counties to the north and east. There, the amount of water pumped increased by 42 percent, to 163 million gallons a day, between 1990 to 2006, when demand started to decline slightly because of the flagging economy.

The historical average rainfall, compiled over the past three decades, is 53.5 inches per year. Since 1990, the annual total has been less than that 14 times, including each of the past six years.

Of course, back in the 1960s, that historical average was at least 2 inches higher, about 55 inches, a mark hit even less frequently in recent years.

So by visiting the cave in the middle of a severe drought, we weren’t seeing rare conditions, but ones that are recurring again and again.

“It’s like we’re in a drought, things briefly improve, and then we’re back in it again,” said Granville Kinsman, manager of the district’s hydrologic data section.

Kinsman also produced data showing that average rainfall was on an upward trend before 1960, suggesting the more recent downward one is part of a natural cycle.

Other theories are that the decreasing rainfall is tied to the loss of wetlands in Florida — “the rainmaking machine,” former Swiftmud executive director Sonny Vergara called it. Or that it’s related to global climate change.

But at this point, nobody really knows. And nobody I talked to at either Swiftmud or the much better-funded South Florida Water Management District has made a concerted effort to find out.

Which can’t go on.

Because whatever amount of pumping the district is allowing is too much.

It would probably be too much even if we were receiving steady doses of normal rain. It’s definitely too much if we’re dealing with a long-term decline.

Which is sure what it looks like underground.

The entrance to Crumbling Rock is a little like an old-fashioned well — a vertical shaft barely big enough to fit a bucket — and it used to lead directly to water.

Once Brooks had dropped a cable ladder down the shaft, and we had climbed down, he pointed to a coffee-colored water line that showed the usual level of the former underground stream.

“You would have been crawling with your chin just above water,” said Brooks, who has been exploring this cave for the past six years.

Every year, the water level has dropped, and on our visit we encountered only a few puddles and some ankle-deep mud.

“With the rain we’re getting, we’re ending every year in a deficit, and yet we’re taking the same amount out,” Brooks said.

“If you treated your bank account that way, you’d be broke. And our aquifer is broke.”

Maybe not yet. But it’s getting there.

Posted by: rainworks | May 8, 2012

No Sustainable Planning leads to Failure

Americas INFRASTRUCTURE was planned for failure, officials were not visionaries for the future.

The existing public/private Water Works have been a waste of Taxpayers money for every 50 years. The systems are also then over taxed because of increased Development and additional manufacturing. The water systems should only supply drinking water. Let the Industries drill their own wells. Re-use their water as Gray water. Or make use of their Roof Tops, Parking Lots, etc. as rain catchment and retention  infrastructure, and maintain it instead of washing down the parking lots and streets with Storm-water discharge. Use of this alone would reduce the overall increased pressure from Water Works that the 40-50 year old  system can not handle. Use of Rain Water Harvesting is the most beneficial resourse every American can get access to. They too will need local labor to install a Clean Water Catchment Infrastrusture point of Entry (POE); Roofs, Gutters, 1st Wash, and then; Capture, Filter, UV light sanitization, for Point of Use (POU). This would benefit the whole community with less pressure on existing Under the Street Infrastructure, less seepage and sink holes. AS well, it would provide super clean healthy drinking water. The resulting water discharge into a gray water system could be used to flush toilets and moderated Ground Water Re-charge. reducing Stormwater discharge. Who gets to profit from this? Residential roofing, plumbing, and landscapeing Companies, with Real Shovel Ready JOBs.

Please note the following article.

Fiscal crunch puts stress on Tampa’s aging water system

By KEVIN WIATROWSKI | The Tampa Tribune 
Published: May 08, 2012

TAMPA City water managers on Monday lifted the weekend boil-water order for customers north of Fowler Avenue, three days after a ruptured water main left thousands of New Tampa homes and businesses dry.

Friday’s line break was the latest public failure of Tampa’s aging water system.

A year ago, city residents from Beach Park to New Tampa were enraged by eye-popping water bills the city initially attributed to excessive lawn watering.

In 2006, a water main break beneath the Hillsborough River dumped 100,000 gallons of drinking water into the river for three days.

In 2002, a water main break near Tampa International Airport turned Memorial Highway into a river for an afternoon.

Such utility collapses are becoming increasingly common across the country as aging water lines and other systems reach the end of their lives, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The problem coincides with the aftermath of the recession, when falling tax rolls and strained public budgets make it hard for cities such as Tampa to afford the high cost of replacing critical infrastructure, said Greg diLoreto, the society’s president-elect.

“It’s more universal than we think,” said diLoreto, who runs a water utility near Portland, Ore.

In recent years, the society has given the nation’s utilities, roads, bridges and levees borderline-failing grades as they grow more overwhelmed by the demands placed upon them. Like the New Tampa water line, much of that failing infrastructure dates to the 1970s or before.

“The stuff we put in the ’70s we thought would hold up for a long time,” diLoreto said.

Under Mayor Pam Iorio, Tampa began a $100 million project to update its aging water and sewer systems. That project led to crews tearing up city streets in downtown and elsewhere to install new pipes. The city has replaced 88 miles of water mains.

City crews have been adding new water lines parallel to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard as part of the widening of New Tampa’s main traffic artery. The new water line replaces the 40-year-old one that ruptured Friday.

Brad Baird, head of the city’s water department, said Friday the city was two weeks away from replacing the ruptured segment when it failed.

The failure affected about a half-million people from Busch Gardens and the University of South Florida north to the Pasco County line. The city lifted a boil-water advisory Monday.

Water department spokesman Eli Franco said the city had targeted the Bruce B. Downs line for replacement because of its age and a lack of alternatives.

After the blowout, crews accelerated the schedule for bringing the new pipe online, doing in about a half-day what was supposed to take two weeks.

“In this particular case, we were very fortunate that the lion’s share of the work was in place,” Franco said.

The speed with which the city restored water service in New Tampa helped keep the outage from becoming a fiasco on the scale of last year’s billing problems, which led Mayor Bob Buckhorn to expand the city’s meter-reading staff.

Tampa Palms resident Randy Marlowe said his initial reaction to the line break was exasperation. But later he reconsidered that response.

“One you realize the size of the line and the number of people affected, I’m quite impressed,” Marlowe said. “The restoration was much faster than expected.”

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