Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Water Harvesting

When did water harvesting first occur?

Rainwater harvesting is not a new technology. Long ago, numerous civilizations devised ways to catch and store water. The Ancient Romans even devised ways to transport it through complex aqueduct systems. For thousands of years, groups of people used rainwater for agricultural, household and livestock demands, and it is still in use today by many populations around the world.

Why should I use rainwater for non-drinking applications?

Using treated drinking water for non-potable purposes is expensive and unnecessary. Using rainwater is more efficient for many of these purposes because it doesn't require purification, which uses extra energy.

What are the possible uses for rainwater stored in a cistern?

The cistern at Prairie Ridge is used only for flushing toilets, but other possible home applications include irrigation, filling swimming pools, washing vehicles, fire protection systems and air conditioning systems. A household cistern installed to provide water for home use is a great way to conserve water and money.

The cistern at Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Do you have to be concerned about running out of water?

At Prairie Ridge, we estimate the water demand for our outdoor classroom to be about 960 gallons per month. The Galvalume roof is approximately 63 feet by 35 feet, so for every inch of rain, approximately 147 cubic feet (or 1100 gallons) of water enters the cistern. The water supply is well above the current demand. If the cistern ever runs low, we have the option of tapping into municipal water, but our cistern is almost always filled to the brim.

 The Galvalume roof of the Outdoor Classroom

Is it practical to install a cistern in a home or office setting?

There are numerous companies now offering rainwater management systems and cisterns in residential or commercial settings are becoming more of a reality. Depending on the desired features and the size of the cisterns, these systems now range in price from about $1,300 to $9,000 for home systems.

While these prices may seem steep, these systems will pay for themselves over time. Let's say you have a monthly water bill of $30. Rainwater can be substituted for more than 65% of household water usage, so this may cut your bill to $10.50, saving you $19.50 each month. Assuming you spent $2,000 on a rainwater management system, it would take you a little over eight years for the system to pay for itself.