Pros & Cons of Rainwater Harvesting

Written by phillip chappell
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Pros & Cons of Rainwater Harvesting
Rain is free, but it might not be enough to run your household on. (Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Harvesting a portion of your own water is the law in parts of Australia, while in North America it is illegal in some jurisdictions. The benefits of harvesting rainwater are plenty; so are the pitfalls. The quality of the water will depend on whether you live in a municipality or on the countryside.

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Lowered Utility Bill (Pro)

Rainwater harvesting is an alternative to using water provided by a municipality. Water comes free from the sky, so you will not need to pay to collect it. Most people use municipal water every day for drinking, cooking and bathing, which can lead to hefty bills. By connecting your rainwater tank to your home, you will be able to extract water directly from your own source, which will avoid running up your water meter and accumulating costs that you could have otherwise avoided.

Water Quality (Con)

The quality of water that you harvest yourself is questionable due to the pollution, dust, insect parts and chemicals found in your roofing. You must take measures to ensure your water is drinkable, such as filtering it and adding chemicals. Appropriate roofing must also be used. Municipalities, however, regularly test the quality of their water to ensure purity.

Health of Plants (Pro)

Rainwater is more healthy for plants, according to Harvesth2o.com. Because there are no chemicals in rainwater, other than possible pollutants, your plants will respond better. A pump and sprinkler system can be hooked up to your basin and you may start noticing a difference in the appearance of your plants immediately. They can become fuller and brighter.

Complexity (Con)

Some people may find harvesting rainwater too complex. You will likely need to hire a plumber if you want to connect the water to your home. Pumps and filters will be needed.

Water Treatment Plant (Pro)

Water treatment plants cost a lot of money. These are usually paid for in your municipal taxes. If many people change to using rainwater, the costs for these facilities will decrease and that could be reflected in your bills.

Reliability (Con)

Some households might require more water than what they can collect. Your water might be cut off in mid-shower and it can be difficult to switch your water supply back to the municipal source. Collecting enough water is less of a problem if you live on the coast. It's often a challenge to collect enough rainwater to water the lawn and provide for your family.

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