Archive for June, 2010

Important Development in Rainwater Standards

June 29, 2010

The International Code Council has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA), building on its emphasis on green construction in the Public Version 1.0 of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC). The MOU calls for both organizations to use their knowledge and expertise to advance and promote the safe and effective design and implementation of rainwater catchment systems.

ARCSA contributed significant time and expertise to the development of the Rainwater Collection and Distribution Systems section of the IGCC, drawing from their well-established Rainwater Catchment Design and Installation Standards guideline document. This is a very solid base both organizations will leverage to advance rainwater catchment systems in an ever-improving effort to use alternative water sources to preserve freshwater supplies.

As freshwater supplies become strained in more and more regions, rainwater collection is gaining increased attention as a source of free, high-quality water. Several states, including Georgia, Oregon, and Virginia have published code addenda addressing rainwater systems. Many other states are studying the issue. ARCSA is working to educate system designers and installers to ensure that these new systems are effective and durable.

“Since our founding in 1994, ARCSA has been devoted exclusively to the promotion, education and support of rainwater catchment systems,” added E.W. Bob Boulware, ARCSA’s President. “Our organization was well ahead of the conservation trend that is sweeping the entire building industry. We believe this new partnership with the ICC will facilitate exponential growth of rainwater catchment systems across the country and around the world.”

This collaboration will identify and promote new and existing sustainability opportunities and services, supporting cooperative standards and codes development that will benefit the industry. In fact, the Code Council has already filed project notifications with the American Standards National Institute (ANSI) to develop new standards for two unique components of rainwater systems: pre-filters (also known as debris excluders) and roof washers (also known as first-flush diverters). The proposed standards will be developed collaboratively with ARCSA and possibly other partners. These two components currently lack basic product standards in North America, limiting their acceptance in codes.

“As freshwater becomes scarcer in the coming years, rainwater harvest will become an ever more critical alternative water source,” said Code Council CEO, Rick Weiland. “The building industry is again taking the lead by embracing this effective means of water capture. The Code Council is proud to be partnering with organizations like ARCSA and playing such a prominent role in helping the industry to implement innovative sustainable applications.”

“Capturing rainwater, not only positively impacts plumbing systems, but also dramatically offsets issues related to storm water control,” added Jay Peters, ICC PMG Group’s Executive Director. “ARCSA is the leader in rainwater catchment in the United States, and we’re very excited to be partnering with them to advance this important field.”

ICC and ARCSA will also develop products and services for their members and the industry, support initiatives that advance global safe water, and cross promote select educational offerings and products and services of each organization. The agreement also calls for initiatives related to chapter resources, technical initiatives, committees and councils to increase and improve the level of education, communication and overall value for ARCSA and ICC members.

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New Georgia Conservation Legislation Authorizes New Tax Credit for Installation of Rainwater Collection Systems

June 18, 2010

Georgia Bill HB 1069 provides a tax credit up to $2,500 for homeowners who install a rainwater collection system.

Atlanta, Georgia (April 2, 2010) –Georgia Governor Purdue recently signed into law the Water Stewardship Act and perhaps more importantly, HB 1069, to encourage Georgia homeowners and businesses to adopt a culture of water conservation.  HB 1069 gives up to a $2500 tax credit for homes and business that install rainwater collection systems.  With the decision of Federal Judge Magnuson who ruled that Lake Lanier could not be used as a major source of water for Atlanta Metro Area after July 2012.  Clearly alternatives to using Lake Lanier water must be found.

HB 1069 gives needed incentives to spur rainwater collection which could amount to tens of millions of gallons per day of reduced Lake Lanier water demand. This arguably would have a much greater impact on water supply than the Water Stewardship Act which requires compliance with water conservation measures already being widely practiced and which have a relatively lower impact on water demand on a per residence or per business basis than rainwater collection.

The tax credit outlined in HB1069 is 25% of the cost of the installation of equipment or $ 2,500, whichever amount is less.  This obviously amounts to a significant portion of the upfront capital cost of installing a rainwater collection system.  Funding for the bill awaits release of further federal stimulus funds which have yet to be released.  The tax credit would become available on January 1 of the year following the release of funding.

Rainwater Collection was included in this legislation because it is a proven method of conserving water to use for both indoor and outdoor uses. Rainwater collection systems capture rainwater, an abundant and free natural water source in the Atlanta area, even during drought periods.  The water can be used for landscaping, indoor plumbing uses such as toilet flushing and laundry, and even drinking water.

Ecovie Environmental, based in Atlanta, installs custom designed rainwater collection systems for homeowners focused on reducing their environmental impact and who are concerned about future water supply. “Home owners are rediscovering the benefits of rainwater collection as a way to have their own personal reservoirs for irrigation and for indoor water uses” said Bob Drew President of Ecovie Environmental . “New products developed over the past 10 or so years have greatly improved the ease of design and installation and provide a more reliable source of water than previous home-made systems.”

For more information on rainwater collection and available tax credits please call Bob Drew at (404) 824-9266 or visit their website at www.ecovieenvironmental.com.

About Ecovie Environmental: ECOVIE Environmental provides custom design and installation of rainwater collection systems for discriminating home and business owners. They design rainwater collection system layout and sizing to meet specific needs of each homeowner to maximize utility and cost savings. Ecovie Environmental’s goal is to deliver the best solution and to communicate with their customer every step of the way.

Potable Rainwater

June 16, 2010

With so much rain in Atlanta recently, most people here have concluded that the drought is over; time to move on to other issues.

Not so, says Mandy Mahoney, the city of Atlanta’s director of sustainability: It will be an ongoing problem for years, she says. And while many people think the long-term answer is the building of dams and reservoirs – solutions which probably cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars – Mahoney’s set her eyes on a much simpler, immediate solution, mimicking what those in the areas like Australia, the Caribbean, and the southwest U.S.  have done for years: encouraging citizens to recycle rainwater.

Already, she’s working hard to put in place legislative/tax/plumbing code incentives to encourage citizens here to install rainwater collection systems – including, for instance, giving homeowners tax breaks who install these systems.

Just as important, she’s getting into the minutiae of the issue. For instance, under current Atlanta plumbing codes, there is no code specifically saying how to create potable rainwater for drinking. So Mahoney’s been working with local rainwater collection professionals (including ECOVIE) to change that code so it can be drunk by homeowners who install systems – and that change is on the verge of being approved by the necessary authorities.

And, in fact, one Virginia Highlands homeowner is just completing installation in her house of what will be the city’s first “test case” regarding potable rainwater collection; one or two other homeowners are following suit.

Collected Rainwater – The Way to Keep Landscapes Green

June 10, 2010

Across the US and the world, home and business owners are rediscovering the benefits of rainwater collection as a way to have their own personal reservoirs for irrigation and for indoor water uses.  Rainwater collection helps control runoff in is used to solve erosion problems.  Since rainwater is clean and soft, it is a healthier choice for irrigation since it has no chlorine or other contaminants found in municipal water supplies.

So what comprises a rainwater collection system?  Just like it has been done for ages, rain is collected from rooftops or hard surfaces like driveways.  It is then conveyed to filtering to remove any leaves where it is stored for future use.  Storage can be in underground cisterns or above ground tanks ranks from the tiny 50 gallon rain barrels to over 10,000 gallons for residences.  A typical size for residences that have automatic irrigation is 3,000 to 5,000 gallons to supply most if not all watering needs.

A wide range of products are on the market specialized for rainwater collection.  New products developed over the past 10 or so years have greatly improved the ease of design and installation and provide a more reliable source of water than previous home-made systems.  Many of the leading products come from Australia and Germany where rainwater collection has become a widespread practice due to water supply challenges and a strong green movement.  Advancements such as self cleaning filtration, pump controls, city water backups, and tank level indication have made today’s systems much more hands off and trouble free than in the past.

You may wonder how much water can be collected and how much is required for outdoor irrigation.  Surprising to many, a 2,000 square foot house can collect around 1,200 gallons for each inch of rain.    How much you collect with any particular system depends upon tank size, local rainfall patterns, and water usage habits.  As an example, a system recently installed has 3,400 gallons of underground storage for outdoor irrigation and collects water from around 3,000 square feet.  Before installation, the home owner was using around 8,000 gallons a month for just irrigation.  This rainwater collection system will collect around 50,000 gallons per year on a normal rainfall year which will save about $1500 a year with that location’s sky high and rising water rates.  This gives great return on investment while controlling storm water runoff and proving a source of clean, pure water for irrigation.

In another system, the same 3,400 gallon tank capacity collects from 2,000 square feet of roof.  In this case, water is used for all household purposes including drinking water.  A relatively simple filter system with UV treatment provides water cleaner than city water for a family of 5.  In this case, water is collected and used year around with projected savings of 60,000 gallons per year with most months being completely ‘off-grid’.

Places in the US where rainwater collection is most widely used are those places that have a high need for alternate water sources and also have a high level of green awareness.  We can expect fresh water needs to increase over time as well as green awareness so rainwater collection could become a common part of any residence, especially those who do a lot of outdoor watering.  In conjunction with evolving best practices in water conservation for irrigation and for indoor water use, rainwater collection has become a viable alternative to large centralized water treatment systems.  Over time we can expect more decentralized solutions to our collective water supply and management challenges.