Archive for April, 2010

Rainwater Harvesting Catching on in Atlanta

April 30, 2010

By Bob Drew

Finally, rainwater “harvesting” – the process of capturing rain, storing it and “recycling” it for any number of purposes both at home and in the workplace – is coming into its own in Atlanta.

And not a moment too soon.  It’s no secret, of course, that Atlanta has challenges with access to water from Lake Lanier and that periods of droughts and floods are commonplace.  This has led to extraordinary debate about its cause – and, just as important, heated discussion about what kinds of remedies can be effected. The goal: Ensuring future generations have ample access to water to support Atlanta’s continuing economic and population growth.

Unfortunately, civic leaders have found few quick fixes beyond encouraging water conservation, banning or limiting activities such as watering lawns, and encouraging the installation of more energy-efficient appliances.

Long-term solutions – the building of one or more reservoirs, for instance – appear elusive, dogged by questions of cost and who will pay for them.  Meanwhile, fighting continues over just how three states – Georgia, Alabama and Florida – will share the water of Lake Lanier, Atlanta’s premiere source of H2O – and the city continues raising its water rates (they will increase 12.5% this year and another 12.5% next year and who knows after that).  (A little-known fact: According to Fitch Ratings in New York, Atlantans pay more for water than residents of any other major city in the U.S.)

A cost-effective, immediate, “take-charge” solution

Largely overlooked as a solution that can be put in place today – and bring immediate results: Rainwater harvesting by both consumers and businesses. Indeed, to date the concept has received little attention from politicians, civic and not-for-profit groups and the media anywhere in the Southeast, in part because the South has never been “water starved” historically in the way the West has been. As a result, water supply here has been taken for granted, an issue people have thought best dealt with by government agencies rather than by individual consumers and businesses who have had little if any “skin” in the game.

Little known in the Atlanta region – and anywhere in the Southeast: As we have suffered through the drought and watch Lake Lanier drain, a great number of Western states and cities have enacted legislative, tax, plumbing code and related changes and incentives that are making these areas water sufficient in large part through rainwater harvesting.

Here’s the great part: These rainwater harvesting initiatives in the West cost taxpayers little compared to the giant sums that have to be invested in major infrastructure projects such as the construction of reservoirs. And, most important, in many cases consumers and businesses are incented through tax breaks to install water harvesting systems on their property (just as they are in the better-known arena of solar power and the installation of solar panels) – a solution that enables them to take better control over their short- and long-term budgets while also knowing that they’re playing a part personally in a key “green” and eco “sustainability” issue.

Atlanta: Becoming the Southeast’s leader in rainwater harvesting?

Over the past year – indeed, in the first quarter of 2010 in particular – a number of developments indicate that Atlanta may be fast becoming the Southeast’s leader in rainwater harvesting.  Consider:

  • The Geogia legislature is in the process of approving HB 1069 which will give up to a $2500 tax credit for rainwater harvesting systems;
  • In a significant development, Atlanta is close to approving several pilot systems for using rainwater for all household purposes including drinking water!  These projects will be used to develop new state plumbing codes specifying the type of filtering and other treatment required to use rainwater for residential potable water use.   Currently, collected rainwater is typically used only for non-potable purposes such as filling pools, watering gardens, and for laundering and flushing toilets);
  • Mandy Mahoney, the city’s director of sustainability for the past couple of years, is zeroing in on rainwater harvesting as a crucial component in the city’s fight to become a global leader in urban environmental endeavors.

“We’re backing harvesting efforts: We’re not going to solve the city’s water problems  without adopting innovative solutions like this one,” says Mahoney. “My ultimate goal is to get us to a point where everyone has one of these systems, or is considering installing one.”

  • A new advocacy group of local rainwater system professionals called SRHSA (Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association recently formed to help encourage the passing of laws and the launching of initiatives that will encourage rainwater harvesting and has engaged its first lobbyist, Mr. Edward Van Giesen. This is important because existing rainwater harvesting organizations have focused less on advocacy than on education – and because this is the SE’s first organization promoting the interests of the SE exclusively (two Georgians head the organization; I’m one, serving as vice chairman).

By far the most exciting development, however: Individual consumers and businesses are stepping up to the plate, installing rainwater harvesting systems even without tax breaks or other government-led efforts that might have encouraged them.

Not surprisingly, some of the initial consumer interest in water harvesting systems has come from some of the 500,000 Atlantans born abroad – in countries where environmental issues and sustainability have long been both a government-supported priority and a way of life for citizens.

“In Germany, every newly-built house has to have an underground cistern installed for the use of garden water and even flushing the toilet,” says Sabine Bickert , a Frankfurt based architect who lived in Atlanta between 1998 and 2002  and bought a second home in Marietta where she installed a water harvesting system last year. “In my job I deal with water retaining systems and solar panels for new homes all the time; in Atlanta, I plan to become independent of city water – and, finally, of buying electricity by installing solar panels on the roof of the house.”

Felix Kuemmerli, originally from Switzerland and at Atlanta resident since 1999, is taking sustainability a little bit farther.  After a tree fell on his house in historic Grant Park last year, he decided to “go eco” in a way from “A to Z’ in the rebuilding process – his rainwater collection system will use collected rainwater for indoor non-potable uses as well as outdoor watering.  Through an innovative method the collection is done even though building requirements in this historic are does not allow gutters on the house.

“Generally, here in the U.S. we’re more wasteful than in Europe,” he says.  “Beyond that, however, with the drought we’ve wanted to be a little ‘greener’; we’re pretty serious about this. And on the cost side, we’re doing this because we know in the water area alone, the city will be increasing the cost of water over the next four years.”

The payback? “We expect our energy bill to be reduced by 80 percent and our water bill between 30 and 50 percent going forward,” he says.

Coupling sustainability with hobbies (subhead)

Of course, plenty of Atlantans born in the U.S. are jumping on the bandwagon as well. Scott Garrison, a native New Englander whose property abuts John’s Creek, wants to get back to an old hobby – gardening – while also preparing for an uncertain future where, for instance, just what kind of access Atlanta will have to Lake Lanier’s water in the future remains a question.

“For some time I’ve wanted to get back to things like I enjoy such as gardening, and that realization dovetailed with the city’s ongoing draught,” says Garrison. “Water’s expensive here to begin with, and then I think something will happen with regard to Lanier and Florida’s and Alabama’s claim on that water, although it probably won’t be as draconian as some might fear.”

Beyond that, however, Garrison’s simply amazed at the amount of water that’s wasted in the city. “There’s so much beautiful and available land here, and it just gets paved over, resulting in a lot of flooding,” he says. “In my own neighborhood, we get these torrential rainstorms, and there’s just no way to collect that runoff. I don’t think the cost of installing these rainwater harvesting systems is all the great when compared to all the benefits that result.”

In Virginia Highlands, Mary Stouffer and her husband Mark, both Floridians, have suffered through numerous basement floodings since moving into their house in 1996 so have had to waterproof their basement and put in a retaining wall to solve that problem. Their rainwater system is one of the proposed pilot systems for creating drinking water!  “As we got into this, we decided we wanted to make water a friend rather than an enemy,” she says. “We don’t want to be a burden on the water system; we don’t want to contribute to flooding at our neighbors’ houses; and we don’t want to pay higher and higher water bills. Installing a rainwater collection system in addition to solving our flooding problem is a win-win – and comes with the added benefit that our kids can play in the yard, having fun slipping and sliding and doing other things that involve water, without worrying about what that would cost or hurt the neighborhood.”

Creating a groundswell of interest?

While not top of mind, all of these Atlantans hope their efforts will encourage others here to join in water sustainability and harvesting endeavors. Stouffer, for instance, notes that a neighbor is considering following her lead, installing a harvesting system; in time, neighborhood groups and associations may join the fray as well.

The biggest concern? That Atlantans will forget about the drought they’ve just lived through – and may not be over, despite recent downpours.  “I worry that with the drought technically or officially over, people will just go back to all their old bad habits,” says Monica Anschel, who runs the environmental education committee of the Parent Teacher Association at Sope Creek Elementary in Cobb County, which has just installed a harvesting system. “The city really can be self-sustaining in terms of its water needs if it’s thoughtful and careful, and part of that consider will involve the installation of these systems.”

Adds Keummerli: “”Most people have already forgotten the time, not so long ago, when they couldn’t water outside. From that perspective, maybe it’s not such a bad idea that the city begins to raise water rates: You won’t capture the attention of Atlantans unless those rates continue going up.

“We need to continue the push toward water harvesting,” he adds. “It will be good for everyone.”

Bob Drew is founder of ECOVIE Rainwater Collection Systems

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Potable Rainwater: Filtration and Purification

April 9, 2010

The following article is by Doug Pushard, one of my colleagues in ARCSA.  ECOVIE follows these practices for the potable water applications we have done.

Potable Rainwater: Filtration and Purification

by Doug Pushard

When I was growing up, I remember drinking out of a rain barrel with a ladle. My great aunt would yell out the door, “Remember not to drink off the top!” That was then and now is now.

A lot has changed in 4 decades. There are a lot more pollutants, and we are more aware of the risks. We now know that E. coli and other harmful bacteria can be passed along in untreated contaminated water. A report by Peter H. Gleick estimates that if no action is taken to address unmet basic human needs for water, as many as 135 million people will die from water-related diseases by 2020.

Rainwater harvesting is viewed by many, including the EPA, as a partial solution to the problems posed by water scarcity: droughts and desertification, erosion from runoff, over-reliance on depleted aquifers, and the costs of new irrigation, diversion, and water treatment facilities.

Harvested rainwater in the U.S. is used mostly for irrigation; however, there is a growing interest in using rainwater for drinking and other indoor uses. Over 50% of household water is used indoors; bringing rain indoors could save the expense and environmental costs of treating and transporting water.

Can rainwater be made safe to drink? Yes. How safe? As safe as your well or tap water. How do you make it safe for indoor use? By filtering and purifying it.

Contaminants in water may include algae, air pollution, bird excrement, and leaves, sand, and dust. Local wells have dealt with these problems for decades. Installation of filtration and purification equipment can remove these contaminants at home as well.

First, take measures to keep foreign matter out of the incoming rainwater. First flush devices, gutter screens and other screening mechanisms keep the rainwater as clean as possible before it enters the conveyance system. Using screens and filters will greatly reduce maintenance and lengthen the life of the pump and filtration/purification system.

Even the best screening systems will allow unwanted particulates into the cistern. To keep sediment where it belongs, at the bottom of your tank, screen incoming rainwater, give the remaining sediment time to settle, avoid disturbing it, and don’t pull water from the bottom of the tank. Use a floating filter, which extracts water from the middle of the tank, leaving sediment undisturbed.

Next is filtration, which removes debris from the water. Disinfection or purification follows, which kills contaminants and removes harmful substances that may be present.

To determine what type of system you need, test the rainwater at a reliable laboratory. Without testing, you could spend a lot of money on equipment that will not give you safe water.

Filtration is included in every system, even simple irrigation systems. Examples of filtration systems include: screen filters, paper filters, and carbon or charcoal filters.

Almost all systems use multiple filters. For example, after gutter screens and/or a first flush device, a system often includes two in-line filters of increasing fineness, a carbon filter and a UV light. Each of these are described below to assist you in evaluating what might be the right alternative for your planned water use and required water quality.

In starting to evaluate filter options, it is imperative to know exactly what the filter system you select will actually remove from the water. National Sanitation Foundation/American National Standards Institutions (NSF/ANSI) standards are the best, most stringent in the industry. Almost all water-filtration products are certified under NSF Standard 61 for Drinking Water System Components (see Related Topics). But the critical standards for contaminant removal are Standard 42, “Drinking Water Treatment Units – Aesthetic Effects,” and Standard 53, “Drinking Water Treatment Units – Health Effects.”

Standard 42 covers specific aesthetic contaminants (chlorine taste and odor, and visible particulates). Standard 53 covers health-related contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, lead, and volatile organic chemicals that may be present in drinking water. Systems that meet both of these standards are available, but expensive. Fortunately, the NSF website (see Related Topics) provides an easy way to search for units made by a specific manufacturer or that remove a specific contaminant.

Filters and Disinfection

Filters are measured in microns. One micron is about 1/25,000th of an inch. For comparison, sand is about 100 – 1,000 microns, a human hair is about 100 microns, a particle of dust is about 1 micron and a virus can be smaller than .01 micron.

The first filters in a system are cartridge filters. They range widely in what they are capable of removing and are used in a series (e.g., a 20 micron followed immediately by a 5 micron filter).

Filters are rated by the smallest size of particle they are capable of filtering. The smaller the micron size the better the filter. However, the finer the filter, the higher its cost and the slower its process. Filters have to be changed regularly, as an old, used filter is an excellent environment for microorganisms and potentially harmful pathogens.

For wells and rainwater systems a larger (e.g., a 50 micron) filter or equivalent screen (e.g., 300 mesh) should be used first to eliminate sand and large particles. This screen should be easily accessible and cleaned quarterly. Next is a 20 or 10 micron filter, followed immediately by a 10 or 5 micron filter. These are cleaned less frequently, but at least annually.

Filters will not eliminate all substances in the water. To create drinking quality water, filtration is always followed by disinfection. The EPA requires surface and ground water to be disinfected before it is consumed. Consequently, public water systems add disinfectants to destroy microorganisms that can cause disease in people and animals.

This is also necessary for rainwater, as the natural environment contains many microorganisms. Most are not harmful to us. Some, however, such as Giardia lamblia, can be deadly. These need to be eliminated from water before it is consumed.

Kinds of disinfection include chlorinization, ozonization, ultraviolet (UV) light, and membrane filtration. In evaluating disinfection methods, be aware that some actually create unhealthy byproducts that need to be treated.

The effectiveness of disinfection is judged by looking for an indicator organism that, if present, indicates other more harmful pathogens may be present. In getting a water test, this indicator organism is Total Coliform Bacteria that, if present, indicates other pathogens may be present as well.

Chlorine has been used as a disinfectant in public water systems for most of the past century. The introduction of chlorine to disinfect water has virtually eliminated waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis, saving thousands of lives. However, it is often maligned due to suspected side effects.

Chlorine has been used as a disinfectant in public water systems for most of the past century. The introduction of chlorine to disinfect water has virtually eliminated waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and hepatitis, saving thousands of lives. However, it is often maligned due to suspected side effects.

For disinfection purposes, 2.3 fluid ounces of household bleach must be added per 1,000 gallons of water. Chlorine dosage rate will vary depending on quantity of water to be treated, pH and temperature.

A major downside of chlorine is that it is very reactive and easily combines with naturally occurring organic material to create harmful trihalomethanes(THMs) like chloroform. Chloroform is formed when chlorine reacts with either humic and/or fulvic acids, which are commonly found in water.

Because chlorine is reactive, it quickly dissipates. Keeping the dosage rate correct is critical when using this method of disinfection. THMs should be tested for in the water source if you are going to use Chlorine.

To reduce the possibility of harmful byproducts with the use of Chlorine, do the following:

  • Remove the byproducts after they have been created. This is costly, typically meaning other purification systems must be employed (e.g., Reverse Osmosis or other purifcation systems) or
  • The concentration of particulates/organics in the water before it is treated. This is accomplished by using filters to remove these substances from the water prior to chlorine treatment.

The Chlorine smell and taste can be removed with an activated carbon filter, often referred to as a charcoal filter. Granulated activated carbon filters are sometimes made from coconut shells and can be considered a “green” solution. Carbon block filters are compressed activated carbon, fused with a binding substance into a solid block.

Ultraviolet Light

An alternative for disinfecting water is Ultraviolet (UV) light. UV lights have been used for nearly a century in Europe and are now common in the US. With UV lights, the water must always pass through a filtration system first. If no filter is used, pathogens and bacteria will cast shadows in the flowing water, thereby allowing live organisms to pass through unharmed.

UV light works by penetrating an organism’s cell walls and disrupting the cell’s genetic makeup, making it impossible to reproduce and rendering it harmless. Often it is claimed that it kills the microorganism, but it doesn’t – it just makes them unable to reproduce and thus harmless. UV lights do not change the chemical composition of the water and leave behind no by-products.

For UV to be effective the right light dose must be used to a specific unit of water and the water must be clear of suspended solids and other particulates. Most UV units are usually insensitive to temperature and pH differences in the water, but manufacturers’ fine print should be read and followed.

There are several issues with UV lights should be taken into consideration:

  • Replace the bulb at the manufacturer’s specified intervals – generally after 9,000 hours, or about every 12 months;
  • UV light is not visible to the human eye, so it may appear to be lit and in fact is not working;
  • The glass enclosure around the light needs to be cleaned occasionally for the UV light to be effective;
  • If no backup light is installed the water needs to be shut off upstream of the bulb prior to replacing the unit. Generally it is prudent to disinfect the water downstream after the system has been shut down for any reason.

Correct UV treatment is effective in reducing harmful pathogens from the water. It is generally recommended that home units include alarms to notify the user when a bulb needs to be serviced or the unit is not working. Purchase a unit that has an automatic bulb cleaner, to reduce maintenance requirements. Two units should be installed, so when one unit needs servicing the second unit can be turned on so there is no disruption in disinfecting the drinking water.

UV light manufacturers rate their systems to a given dosage at a given flow rate (e.g., 10 gallons per minute). When installing a UV light, make sure the flow rate of the UV unit is matched to your flow rate of water (i.e., the pump flow rate). If the pump rate is greater than that of the UV light, install a pressure regulator or flow restrictor.

To properly treat the rainwater, it must contain particulates no larger than 50 microns and contain no tannins, sulfur or sulfur-related bacteria, have less than 0.3 parts per million of iron, and less than 0.005 parts per million of manganese. Knowing whether these are in the water and need to be treated is a great reason to test your water before installing a system. If any of the above is present in the water, the filters must deal with these elements before the water is treated by a UV light. Most of these will not be present in rainwater, but could result from local air pollution or contamination of the conveyance system. Don’t assume anything until your water has been lab tested.

The UV light unit is typically installed after all filtration and the resulting water is clean, bug-free and ready to use. Entry-level units will handle about 10 gallons per minute. The price of the unit will increase as options and flow rates increase.

Membrane Filtration

Membrane filtration is another alternative. Membrane filtration involves pushing water through a layer of material. Pressure-driven membrane technologies include microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis. It is one of the few technologies capable of removing pharmaceuticals, and creates no byproducts.

Membrane technologies are more costly than other alternatives, but prices are rapidly declining. Most water purification experts expect membrane technology to become the prevalent technology in smaller systems over time as their price drops.

Choosing the right membrane technology is not straightforward, as the technology is changing and there are no real standards. Make sure you know what you need and match it to the type of system you are evaluating. Again, it is critical to test your water to know what you need before evaluating options.

Microfiltration (MF) is a membrane separation process using a pore size of .03 to 10 microns. Although this does not sound like a big range, when it comes to water purification, it is. The smaller the pore size, the more the system will remove. Microfiltration membranes are good for the removal of sand, silt, clay, algae, cysts and some bacteria.

Ultrafiltration (UF) is a membrane separation process using a pore size of approximately .002 to .1 microns. UF will remove all materials removed by an MF system, plus some viruses.

Nanofiltration membranes (NF) have an approximate pore size of only .001 microns. These small pore sizes require much more power to push water through the membrane and generate more waste than either MF or UF filtration systems. These systems eliminate virtually all cysts, bacteria, viruses, and other materials, including minerals. Consequently, the resulting water has a low pH that can be corrosive and needs to be remineralized, commonly using limestone, to raise the pH. Due to the greater power requirements, NF has yet to become mainstream.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is the most widely used membrane technology today.These systems remove particles as fine as .001 microns, are compact, simple to operate and have been in use for over a decade. RO systems remove radium, natural organics, pesticides, cysts, bacteria and viruses. To ensure contaminant reduction, seek out units certified by NSF for contaminant reduction and not just safety. RO systems produce waste water that needs to be processed; however, the newer units are becoming “greener,” producing less, but still significant, waste. These units vary greatly in their efficiency, so make sure to ask about waste and efficiency when shopping for an RO system.

RO waste water contains a high concentration of the contaminants removed from the water, so dealing with this waste must be planned for when installing an RO system. Options for dealing with this water include plumbing through a greywater system to the irrigation system or directly to the septic system.

RO systems come in small under-the-counter units or whole-house systems. Prices will vary greatly for these units and only NSF-certified units should be considered. Under-the-counter units generally include a sediment filter, a carbon filter, the RO membrane and another carbon filter, and will generally cost under $1,000. A whole-house unit contains all the same components, but is capable of handling much larger water flow rates, and generally includes a calcite or equivalent filter to reduce the pH of the water, and a large storage tank (e.g., 20 – 50 gallons). The cost of a whole-house unit can run upwards of $8,000, depending on size of the house and family.

Regardless of system size, maintenance needs to be performed regularly. The most frequent maintenance is changing cartridges. Filters are used to protect the RO membrane from particle fouling. As these filters trap particles from the water supply, a reduction in pressure occurs. Many RO units include a low-pressure switch that prevents the RO from running if the pressure drops too low. Check the allowable pressure drop across the cartridge and compare this to the incoming feed pressure. If it is lower than manufacturer recommendations, the filters need to be replaced.


The last commonly available purification technology is distillation. Distillation separates the water from the impurities through heating and then collecting the condensation. It is very energy intensive and loses about 5-10% of the water due to evaporation. Distillation removes almost all substances from the water with the exception of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that evaporate easily. To this end, some distillation systems are also equipped with carbon filters to remove the VOCs.

Distillation works slowly to reduce energy requirements and, like RO systems, will store the purified water in a tank for later use. In addition to using a lot of electricity to operate, distillation systems generate heat.

Distillation units producing 5 -12 gallons of water a day will typically cost about $1,500 – $2,000. Cost will increase as capacity increases and as options are added. High-end automatic home units with larger storage capacity may cost upwards of $4,000. New solar distillers give you the option of reducing the electrical requirements.

Standard Practice for Household Use

A common practice in off the grid homes is to filter all the incoming rainwater and then store it in a small pressure tank. From the pressure tank the outgoing water is split into two separate paths – one path for potable and the other for non-potable water. A purification process is added to produce potable water. The major advantage of this approach is that it requires a much smaller unit and costs less, since it treats less water than a whole-house unit. But the disadvantage is that it requires a dual plumbing system – one to supply filtered but non-potable water to the toilets, clothes washer, irrigation faucets, etc., and one to supply potable water to the faucets.

An apparently low-cost, entry-level system is a countertop or pitcher type unit for potable water. However, when measured on gallons of water processed between changing filters, these units tend to be much more expensive in the long run. For example, a typical faucet unit available at most large hardware stores needs its filter changed every 100 gallons. For a family, this would be more than once a month and each filter costs about $30. This could cost nearly $500 a year, just for filters!

Before investing in filtration or purification equipment, invest in removing particulates before they enter into the system by installing gutter screens, leaf screens and roof washers. Removing materials before they enter the system is far easier and less expensive than dealing with them afterwards.

There is no perfect solution for disinfecting water, as all solutions have some environmental cost. Some require substantial energy, some create harmful by-products and some waste water. To save money, test your water (have you heard that before?) and get the right unit to solve your specific problem. Generally, the smaller the capacity the less expensive the unit will be overall, so get only what you need.

Lastly, remember that as the owner of a water system, it is your responsibility to maintain it. When you pay for utility-purified and -delivered water, maintenance is included in your bill. But when you own your water system, it is your responsibility to maintain it on a regular basis.

Rainwater can be safely used outdoors and indoors if the correct steps are taken to handle, store and clean it. Although not yet common in the US, indoor use of rainwater is practiced worldwide. As population growth continues, water rates increase and the desire to be “more green” and self-reliant increases, rainwater use will become more common here in the United States.

State of Georgia and Gwinnett County Challenging Use of Lake Lanier Water

April 6, 2010

Georgia has asked an appeals court to allow metro Atlanta to use Lake Lanier for most of its water needs, warning that a contrary decision “will be devastating to 3 million residents who have no meaningful alternative source of water supply.”

Separately, Gwinnett County also asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to reverse a ruling last July that declared the region has no legal right to rely on Lake Lanier for most of its water supply.

The ruling “imposed what can only be termed the death penalty for subsistence by existing households and businesses, as well as future economic growth within Gwinnett,” the county said. It noted that its approximately 800,000 residents rely on the lake as their sole source of water supply.

The almost 200 pages of legal briefs filed by Georgia parties and Gwinnett are the first salvos in a high-stakes appeal over water rights to Lake Lanier. The 11th Circuit has set a briefing schedule that ends July 26. Once all legal briefs are filed, the court is expected to schedule oral arguments in the case.

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Atlanta City Water versus Treated Rainwater

April 3, 2010

In an independent analysis by the UGA Soil and Plant Analysis Lab, Atlanta City water quality was compared to that of treated rainwater from a system recently installed by ECOVIE rainwater Collection Systems.  Unsurprisingly, rainwater has lower concentrations of many inorganic compounds.  This is true because of the distillation process involved in the water cycle and making rain.  City water comes from ground water run off and thus picks up more of these compounds and many other potentially more harmful things.  Both water samples met EPA water quality guidelines and both had relatively low levels of hardness and inorganic content, but the differences are interesting nonetheless.

Silica City Water  8 times more silica Magnesium City Water 16 times more magnesium Calcium City Water 200% more calcium Sodium City Water 25 times more sodium Fluoride City Water 30 times more fluouride Hardness City Water 300% harder Alkalinity City Water 300% more alkaline Potassium City Water 5 times more potassium Sulfate City Water 5 times more sulfate Copper City Water 9 times more copper Nitrate+Nitrite City Water double the nitrates Chloride City Water has 35 times more chloride Conductivity Rainwater close to distilled water

We will have more numbers and more in depth analysis soon, but wanted to get these data out as soon as we received them.

Potable Rainwater Systems for Georgia and Tax Credits

April 3, 2010

ECOVIE have installed a whole home rainwater system in Atlanta which will use rainwater for everything for the house including drinking water.  We have worked closely with the City of Atlanta and are in the last stages of getting final approval for this project to be a pilot case for developing a policy for the city on potable rainwater and also for writing new plumbing code for the state on guidelines for installing and maintaining such systems.

This is exciting  because the system can be retrofit to any existing home and does not require a large amounts of outdoor watering to save lots of municipal water.  Using rainwater indoors for only non-potable uses such as toilet flushing and laundry usually requires installation when the home is built.  Not in this case.  It is possible to tie into the incoming city water line with requisite backflow prevention to feed treated rainwater to the whole home which is cleaner than city water and has good financial payback in addition all the great environmental benefits.  Water savings for a family of four are typically in the neighborhood of 50,000 gallons annually worth about $1,500 savings annually at 2011 Atlanta rates.

To make this even more attractive, the state legislature is in the process of passing a tax credit program worth up to $2500 in tax credits for projects like this!!

Water management companies like ECOVIE have formed a southeast US organization to push programs like this.  We are called SERHSA (Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association and I am the vice chairman.