Rain tanks serve as both a primary or secondary source of potable water. Rainwater tanks are safe and reliable sources of water through drought or disaster. Tools that recharge groundwater like greywater re-use, stormwater gardens and climate appropriate planting ensure robust groundwater supplies that last through a drought.
Greywater re-use is a strategy used to irrigate fruit and nut trees and food-producing shrubs like blackberries, contributing to food security and localizing food supplies. Rainwater harvesting can support irrigation of all food crops, adding diversity to local food production.
Decentralized water harvesting and re-use, as well as other resilience tools expand access to local healthy food, clean water, and other environmental benefits. They can help communities approach resource problems in a collaborative, opportunity rich way.
Tools which reduce extreme heat can improve public health by reducing smog, asthma attacks, heat related illness, and resulting hospitalization. Systems that provide healthy foods, like greywater fed fruit trees and rainwater fed public school gardens improve food security and health. Public infrastructure that creates safe and comfortable pathways for walking and biking improve community cardiovascular health and support strong civic culture, a fundamental part of community resilience.
In California, 20% of the state’s energy is used to move water. By creating hyper localized water sources in rainwater harvesting tanks and underground aquifers through greywater re-use, stormwater gardens, and climate appropriate planting, we improve energy efficiency.
When stormwater gardens, rainwater harvesting and greywater re-use systems support trees that shade hot surfaces, they counteract the urban heat island effect which can raise the temperature in cities several degrees, contributing to public health concerns such as heat stroke, increased asthma rates, and increased smog.
Greywater and rainwater irrigated landscapes are well hydrated and resist fire well without using up more city water or groundwater. Many native plants, part of climate appropriate planting strategies, are well adapted to fire. Often they either having thick fire proof bark or the ability to “crown sprout”, quickly regenerating after a fire. Mulch/Carbon Farming builds soil by adding humidity, carbon and nutrients.
When we capture runoff in rain tanks or give it a place to slowly sink into the ground, we reduce flooding and help bring the water cycle back into balance. Rainwater harvesting and stormwater gardens both support flood mitigation.
Stormwater gardens, greywater and rainwater irrigated trees, shrubs, and climate appropriate plantings provide significant patches of habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife. These same tools recharge groundwater, which increases in-stream flows, supporting robust habitat for aquatic species including macroinvertebrates, fish, birds, and the rest of our ecological family.
When we slow water down in stormwater gardens and rainwater harvesting tanks, it has a chance to sink into the ground and recharge groundwater supplies rather than rushing down the storm drains and rivers to the ocean. Greywater re-use helps to recharge groundwater as well, and climate appropriate planting can help create pathways for water to move into soil, increasing recharge.
As groundwater levels rise from the impacts of greywater re-use, stormwater gardens, rainwater harvesting tanks and climate appropriate planting, natural springs become more robust, discharging groundwater slowly and more consistently into waterways.
Because of rainwater’s neutral pH and lack of chlorination, it is far better for soil health than well water or municipal water. Mulching, Carbon Farming, Rain Gardens, and Greywater Re-use are treatments that build soil by adding humidity, carbon and nutrients.
Rainwater Harvesting and stormwater gardens reduce the volume of runoff entering creeks and rivers. Stormwater gardens and climate appropriate planting also clean and cool it. All of these impacts are building blocks for healthy waterways, and improve both wildlife habitat and drinking water quality.