A rain collector is a great way to get access to a lot of water without having to tap into community sources, and as long as you are not in a recharge zone, the water you use does not affect the water supply levels. A rain collector is generally not recommended to be used for a supply of drinking water, however rain collectors can and should be used if there is truly no other clean water available. First we will be going over the ways to ensure that the water you are collecting from the rain is safe (methods to filter it and actions that can cause it to become contaminated), and second, we will be going over the safer uses of rainwater that are applicable to most, and various info about efficiency related to amount, pathogens, risks, and recharge zones. Though it isn’t required for all uses, the environmental and fiscal benefits multiply when combined with measures to conserve water, remove dangerous bacteria, and filter with equipment that does not remove the much-needed minerals from the water.
Selecting Equipment for Collecting
Storage — Those looking to save some money on lawn care may opt for a simple wooden barrel, while those needing large volumes may require the use of piping that runs between multiple barrels or containers.
Collection — The most basic is simply a barrel with a screen that catches a small area. The roof is commonly used, and a diverter can allow you to not start collecting rain until it has rained enough that all dirt is washed away. Uncommon enough to not warrant great detail, some use large funnels or food grade plastic pieces as a cleaner alternative to roofs.
Best Uses and Situations for Rain Collection
The best uses for unfiltered non-potable water include activities such as watering your garden plants (but still avoid watering lawns when in a drought), and hosing down dirty cars, parts of your home, etc.
The best uses for filtered potable water can be numerous, assuming you are using proper equipment (speak with an expert to be safe). The ones that need fuller filtration will be marked as such, and those that can be used safely with a more basic filtration system will be marked as well.
If you can adjust the pipelines, you can use this water to do laundry and run the toilet (this requires only basic filtration).
Showering and sink water is not recommended for usage without running proper tests, but is a possibility. Similarly, drinking water is generally saved for emergencies but remains a possibility (these activities would require full filtration).
Safety, Hazards, Filtering, and Equipment
Safety — Rain itself is evaporated water, which doesn’t carry any bacteria with it. But that does not mean that what you end up with in the barrel is totally safe. Especially if you do not use a screen, or let it run off your roof before collecting it. As well, you need to make sure that it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight and open air, as that will create the perfect breeding ground for algae, bugs, and bacteria.
Filtering Equipment — What you need will depend greatly on what you use it for, how often it is used, and the collection equipment used. You may need something to make the water drinking quality, something to remove pathogens, or something to remove toxins (while retaining beneficial minerals).
We hope this helps you with any efforts to create a rain collector, big or small. Please contact Clear Water of San Marcos located in San Marcos, TX if you have any further questions or are interested in making your own rain collector.
The recent news coverage of the water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan has put unsafe drinking water in the national spotlight. We all take for granted that water will come out of our taps when we turn the knobs, and that the water coming out will be safe to drink. But an incident like this can call this into question—how safe is the tap water you drink from everyday?
There are, of course, laws put into place such as the Safe Drinking Water Act ensure that our drinking water is held to pretty high standards, with water treatment plants removing a vast majority of toxins from our tap water. But some potentially harmful chemicals remain unregulated or can spike periodically, causing possible health concerns. Read on to learn about a few chemicals that can be present in your drinking water and what you can do to protect yourself from them.
As we’ve talked about previously in this blog, the most common process water treatment plants use to disinfect untreated water is the addition of chlorine. While this can be extremely effective, recent discoveries have revealed some unintended side-effects of this process: As chlorine interacts with sewage, dead animals, livestock manure, and other organic rot, it produces chemicals in a family called Trihalomethanes, which have been shown to be possible carcinogens.
While four members of this Trihalomethane family are regulated—including chloroform—are regulated by the EPA, Many others remain unregulated. This means they don’t check to make sure water coming out of treatment plants has these chemicals or not. But the real troubling part is how research has linked these chemicals to bladder cancer, rectal cancer, and birth defects.
Trihalomethanes aren’t the only unwanted chemical created during the water treatment disinfection process. Some studies estimate that there are as many as 600 new chemicals created when chlorine reacts with untreated water, but of particular interest are haloacetic acids. While the EPA regulates this family of chemicals, the rules let trace amounts of them slip by. And those trace amounts may be enough to cause damage in our bodies.
In addition to being possible carcinogens, haloacetic acids pose an even greater risk to pregnant women, as exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy can result in low birth weight and other defects.
The dangers of chlorine disinfection by-products haven’t gone unnoticed, though. A recent alternative to using chlorine has been to replace it with chloramines, which combine the chlorine with ammonia. This move made sense—chloramines were observed to be more stable and produce up to 47% fewer trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Unfortunately, they may also make things worse.
Unlike chlorine, which produces toxic chemical by-products in water, chloramines themselves are toxic to kidney dialysis patients and produce their own dangerous by-products called iodoacids. Some researchers consider these to be even more toxic than any chemicals produced by chlorination.
What Can You Do?
If potentially dangerous chemicals can actually make it through the water tretment process and into your tap, is there anything you can do to protect yourself from them? Luckily, sink-mounted and cartridge-based carbon filters can be very effective in removing these chemicals. Always make sure you research a product fully before buying it, though, as not all of them filter out these particular chemicals. Always remember to replace your filter immediately when the manufacturer indicates it should be replaced. You’re not just dealing with flavor—you’re dealing with your health!
At Clearwater, we offer a few different solutions that can help you with this important issue inn addition to our salt-free water conditioning systems. Call us to discuss some of these options regarding which products will work to protect you from potential dangers in your tap water.
By now, most of you have probably heard of the dangers of bottled water. News stories, documentaries, and scientific studies all report potential dangers that buying pre-packaged bottled water can have on your health, your wallet, and the environment. At the same time, we also hear about health risks associated with tap water, and bottled water sales don’t seem to be dropping at all. We still see them sold at every supermarket or gas station, and their plastic carcasses still litter every recreational gathering spot you can think of.
So where should you be getting your water? Is buying pre-bottled water worth the extra cost for its convenience and promised purity, or is it just a waste of money and resources? This article will hope to end your watery debate and show you that it’s best for everyone if you forget the retailed H2O and instead invest in filtering your own tap water.
The first and perhaps most consequential reason not to buy bottled water is what’s left behind after you’re finished drinking. Whether you litter or do the right thing and properly dispose of them makes no difference; all those flimsy plastic bottles will ultimately end up in the same place. They’ll eventually be washed into the ocean, where they’ll be pulled by currents to join millions of other plastic waste particles in a swirling maelstrom of ever-expanding garbage. And it will never leave.
Unlike everything else in the ocean, plastic never re-enters the food web, instead breaking down into smaller and smaller particles that, despite their changing size, are still plastic. Life forms cannot break plastic down into nutrients. Thinking they’re food, fish eat these particles and ultimately starve because their stomachs fill up with something inedible. So while water bottles may not be the only source of this pollution, they certainly have a significant impact on this plastic epidemic.
Use of Resources
Pollution isn’t the only way plastic water bottles negatively impact the environment. In order to manufacture, package, and distribute such a large volume of products in this massive industry, all kinds of limited resources are used in vast quantities, from fossil fuels to, ironically, water. It takes a whole lot of fuel to ship a boat load of water bottles across the globe, so why not just use tap water from local sources and skip the entire water shipment process altogether?
Toxins in Plastic
The damage plastic can do doesn’t stop with the environment, either. Even when they have “BPA free” slapped all over their packaging, plastic water bottles still have a slew of other potentially toxic chemicals laced into their flimsy walls. These chemicals can seep out of the plastic and into their contained water if exposed to heat or simply sitting too long, and they can even be leeched from littered bottles into soil and groundwater.
Most of these chemicals haven’t been properly tested, so we don’t really know what they can do to the human body. It’s probably best to not find out the hard way.
It’s Often the Same Thing as Tap
But isn’t bottled water more pure than tap? With images of mountain springs and claims of unrivaled purity, bottled water companies love to sell you the notion that their water is somehow better than your local supply. This is a total lie. As many as 40% of bottled water companies just use local municipal supplies and up-charge their products by up to 10,000%. It’s a total waste of money.
If you notice a difference in taste, it’s probably because these companies add certain minerals to bottled water to enhance the flavor. It’s just glorified tap water with a fancy label; you’re better off filtering your own tap water from your own home.
Making the Switch is Easy
The final reason you should wane yourself of pre-bottled water is that it’s easy and cheap to make the switch to all-tap. Rather than buying a gallon of water next time you’re at the grocery store, instead invest in a water filter and a reusable bottle. BPA-free ones are easy to find, but stainless steel is an even better option. As far as filters go, you don’t even need to spend more than on small cartridges you replace every few months. And the best part about making the switch to tap is that you’ll know your preventing further damage to the environment, your health, and your wallet.
So go out and buy yourself a reusable bottle and start filtering your own water! If you’re worried about hard water or possible contaminants in your local supply, remember that there’s a huge variety of filters, softeners, chlorine removers, disinfectants, and all kinds of other products out there designed to improve your tap water, and many of them are sold right here on this site. You have no excuse; ditch the bottles and bring on the tap!
This is an excellent question. What we put in our bodies is extremely important, and the water we drink is no exception to this. Yet tap water, more often than not, is a subject of controversy and concern. From foul odors to bad taste and mineral deposits, it’s no challenge to be able to tell that there’s more than just dihydrogen monoxide coming out of our pipes. But how do you know exactly what else is in there? The best way to learn what’s in tap water is to understand the processing it goes through on the way from nature to your tap.
Covering the water treatment process, the video above offers a good visual introduction to what most tap water goes through before it reaches people’s homes. Read on to learn this process in a bit more detail and really start to get to know what’s in your water!
In Texas, most drinking water comes from various aquifers as ground water. This along with river water are the two most common places we get our drinking water from and, in both cases, the water undergoes a strictly regulated cleaning process before it makes its way into the tap pipes.
In the first step in this process, illustrated in the animation above, the raw river or ground water passes through a series of screens made of metal bars. these collect large organic matter like plants and animals as well as any trash in the water. The video above illustrates how these series of screens are designed.
In the next step (mentioned at 0:45 in the introductory video), certain chemicals called flocculates are added to the water to allow suspended dirt particles to settle out. This chemistry along with a rapid spinning movement causes almost all of the murkiness in the water to settle to the bottom, while the now clear water moves on to the next step. Check out the above video for an in-depth look at this chemical process.
The water is now clean, but it may still harbor dangerous bacteria or viruses. While several disinfection methods such as boiling have been used in the past, these days chlorination has proven to be the most efficient and cost-effective means of neutralizing harmful pathogens. As a result, nearly every public water system in the U.S. uses chlorine as the exclusive disinfectant.
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, however, then you’d know that chlorination is not all good. As it neutralizes bacteria, it produces chemical by-products that have been shown to be surprisingly dangerous in recent years, and even skin contact with these chemicals can be harmful. You can rad about this in our previous blog post.
So, as you can see, no matter where it started from, water undergoes some pretty in-depth processing before it gets to your tap. But this processing isn’t perfec. Several minerals, like those that make water “hard” slip by, and many of the added chemicals may do almost as much harm as they do good.
Keep these things in mind as you decide which home filtration or water softening systems you might need for your own home; sometimes spending a little extra to add one last layer of water screening of your own can make all the difference.