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Santa Cruz, California – Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, is implementing its newest ecological project: rainwater harvesting. This is an ancient technique enjoying a revival in popularity due to the inherent quality of rainwater and interest in reducing consumption of treated water.
Dominican Hospital has purchased a 5,000-gallon water tank, nine feet high by nine feet wide, to catch and hold rainwater, which will be used to water its organic vegetable garden, various plants, and orchard. Plants thrive under irrigation with stored rainwater. The produce that is harvested from the organic garden is given to Dominican Oaks Congregate Living Facility and to Dominican Hospital. After four years of drought, the water tank will be a welcome addition to our garden.
Advantages and benefits of rainwater harvesting are numerous:
- The water is free; the only cost is for collection and use.
- The end use of harvested water is located close to the source, eliminating the need for complex and costly distribution systems.
- Rainwater provides a water source when groundwater is unavailable due to drought.
- Rainwater is superior for landscape irrigation.
- Rainwater harvesting reduces flow to storm water drains and also reduces non-point source pollution; and
- Rainwater harvesting reduces consumers’ utility bills.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of rainwater harvesting is learning about the methods of capture, storage, and use of this natural resource at the place it occurs.
Rainwater harvesting also includes land-based systems with man-made landscape features to channel and concentrate rainwater in either storage basins or planted areas. Rainwater harvesting can reduce the volume of storm water, thereby lessening the impact on erosion and decreasing the load on storm sewers. Decreasing storm water volume also helps keep potential storm water pollutants, such as pesticides, fertilizers, and petroleum products, out of rivers and groundwater.
With a very large catchment surface, such as that of a big commercial building, the volume of rainwater, when captured and stored, can be a cost-effective source of landscape irrigation.