Updated: Jul 8, 2021
Collecting and storing freshwater from storms is one of the oldest methods of sustainability known. Cisterns dating back to 4000 BC in Mesopotamia made of solid rock were essential for farming in more arid regions. The massive aqueducts of the ancient Greeks and Romans are another well known example. Some cities like Venice, Italy, actually survived solely due to rainwater collection for centuries! Throughout the modern world, it is becoming vitally important to bring this simple and practical method back into household use.
There are many different methods of collecting rainwater. The most prominent and simple form is the use of roofing and gutter systems to drain into large cisterns or barrels with spigots for later use in the garden.
Though there are some concerns of cleanliness to be considered. Asphalt roofing, animal excrement, lichen, moss, and urban pollution have been shown to appear in collected rainwater. In areas where pesticides are heavily applied, they have even been shown to evaporate and end up in drinking water. This is a call for humans to live in a more ecologically minded way! There are new solar technologies that clean water, or if you live in a rural and remote area you should be able to harvest rain water with minimal effort.
Amazingly, collecting rainwater was actually illegal here in the United States until about ten years ago! In my home state of Colorado, water rights laws were extremely prohibitive until record droughts forced a call to action. A study was done in Douglas County, which proved that most rainfall never even reached a stream or river. Instead the water would either be absorbed by plants, or simply evaporate again from the dry and dusty plains. This allowed legislature to see the validity in allowing people to collect rainwater on a household basis.
In many countries, like Thailand and India, rainwater collection has become the norm and millions living in poverty have direct access to clean water as a result. It is absolutely crucial that we bring this kind of normality to every reach of the world. Collecting rainwater may still be illegal in your jurisdiction, and while this is an outrage, it is also a reason for a call to action.
Rainwater harvesting is becoming a necessity everywhere in the world as freshwater is constantly becoming a scarce resource. Doing so will ensure that you can get through a drought period with minimal issues. You truly never know what's next for daily life here on planet Earth. Therefore, collecting and reusing rainwater is a time tested practice that has become incredibly timely in our current time of global scarcity.
I dream of a time of old, where major infrastructure is simple, effective, beautiful, and for the benefit of everyone. A society with a constant and fresh drinking water supply is surely a sign of an advanced one.
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