The quote, "As for rain barrels at [the] home level, they are not very cost-efficient. It is much better and cheaper to direct your storm runoff onto your lawn or flower beds and let it soak in" is why rain harvesting has an uphill struggle for legitimacy ("Rain Catchment-22," April 1).
Let me put this very succinctly: That's rubbish. In drought conditions, storm water does not infiltrate but flows off lawns and gardens until they are already slightly saturated enough for the water to infiltrate. Yes, tiny 50-gallon rain barrels are useless. But up that to, say, 200 gallons per downspout or about 600 to 1,000 gallons per home, and you'll notice a significant reduction in both runoff impacts and potable water demand. Volume is king, but so is having capacity available to catch and hold that storm when it arrives.
RainGrid lot-level storm-water utilities distribute automated cisterns to householders free of charge on the basis that catching storm-water at the lot level actually pays for itself in saved infrastructure damage and insurance-risk reduction. And that's before even bringing potable water conservation into the discussion.
Rain barrels work. I have five and haven't pulled out the hose in the front yard yet this winter! Besides, our plants like rain-barrel water runoff because it's not got any of the chloramines or salt in it. It's really worth it, and fun as well. We in SoCal have rebates via Metropolitan Water District. It's time for local districts to promote this worthwhile investment.
Me and most of my neighbors in Petaluma all have catchment tanks and graywater systems, mostly because we want to keep the water bills down. The main reason municipalities are reluctant to encourage residential water savings is that it's a source of revenue (e.g., Petaluma has a $165 million bond to pay off). Residential water use is such an insignificant part of the equation.
The new Target shopping center is using 3 million-plus gallons a year. Industry and agriculture is where the systemic problem sits. Rohnert Park just built a casino with 15 restaurants with a hotel planned soon. Rohnert Park also just finished building 244 condos behind the casino.
Policymakers need to make serious changes to building and planning requirements, when it comes to graywater, catch systems and water conservation. Just saying . . .
Last week's arts feature on the 'Inverness Almanac,' "Oh, the Fecundity!" erred in noting that the 'Almanac' was available for between $10 and $20 if you send some dough to a PO box we listed. Actually, the Almanac costs $18 and you can order it at invernessalmanac.com.
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