Rain water harvesting is a process of collecting and storing rainwater that falls on a catchment surface (typically a roof, although other external surfaces could be suitable) for use separate from the main water supply. This reduces demand on the public supply, offers some resilience from local supply problems and reduces the amount of energy used for water treatment and transportation. The recent drought in California in addition to erratic weather patterns throughout the world, have made many business consider rain water harvesting in a new light. Rain water harvesting is also gaining popularity in the shift toward building sustainability.
Rainwater is a relatively clean water source which needs only minimal treatment. Collected water can be used for non-potable purposes such as flushing toilets and urinals, supplying washing machines, irrigation systems, vehicle washing, sprinkler systems and so on.
Rainwater harvesting systems range from the humble water butt used to water household gardens, to schemes such as the Millennium Dome in London in 2000, where rainwater was collected from the 100,000 sqm roof and filtered through reed beds before being returned to the Dome and used to flush the 700 toilets. Rain water harvesting on such a grand scale may become more popular over the next several decades, especially if weather patterns continue. Using human ingenuity to combat problems with limited natural resources is definitely a trend that has been on the rise!