Archive for January, 2013

Rainwater Updates

January 28, 2013

For this blog I have a number of updates on which I will comment.  Hopefully you find this informative and as always we welcome your comments and debate.

As many of you know I am a founding member of SERHSA (Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association) and am the acting president.  We have recently announced a partnership with the Regional Business Coalition which seeks to reach out to the local business community to offer rainwater as part of the solution to metro Atlanta’s water supply and stormwater runoff challenges.  Please see the press release on this development, click here.

I am personally very excited about the prospect of working with  RBC to raise awareness and to greatly increase the adoption rate of rainwater collection.  This development has also been picked up in the media with Georgia Public Broadcasting, click here. We will jointly be promoting SERHSA’s campaign, “when it rains, we store” in which property owners large and small can promote the fact that they are collecting rainwater.  Our overall goal is to increase water supplied by collected rainwater by 27 million gallons per day in the next 5 years.  This is a very audacious goal which would mean achieving an adoption rate of around 10% by my estimate.  Here is an overview of the campaign, click here.

Here in Atlanta, the city council is considering an upgrade to their stormwater ordinance to help encourage the use of more green infrastructure to manage runoff.  Here is a summary of what’s planned, click here. Rainwater collection is specifically named as one of many green infrastructure solutions that may be implemented along with rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, and more.  I see this as a very positive development.  The way the ordinance is currently proposed, there will be credits given for using green infrastructure over traditional methods of retention or detention which will incentivize property owners toward green infrastructure.  In addition, in the case of rainwater, there  will be a water bill cost savings to make that option even more appealing.  Let’s take a typical 2500 gallon above ground residential system feeding automatic irrigation.  This system can supply about 50,000 gallons of water per year at a value of $1,500 annually given Atlanta’s water rates.  If the net capital cost of the system is $4,500 (the rainwater system cost minus the cost of retention/detention that it would replace), then the payback is 3 years in rough terms.  This is a very compelling reason to consider rainwater collection in the City of Atlanta.  It is well recognized that this ordinance follows similar policies set up in other cities such as Chicago, Portland, Philadelphia, and others.  Here is the latest draft of the ordinance for those who REALLY want to go in the hole on this topic!  Click Here.

I would like to mention that Tuscon AZ, recently implemented an interesting rebate program for rainwater systems.  The program offers up to $2,000 to home owners who install active and/or passive rainwater systems.  I contacted the City of Tucson and found out that the program is funded by a surcharge of $0.07 per CCF (748 gallons) on standard water bills.  This is an interesting way to finance such a program.  If something like this were to be pursued here in Atlanta the water rate increase would be less than 0.5% and would provide enough funding to  install thousands of residential systems and fully offset any revenue loss from reduced municipal water use.  Even though the rate increase would be very small, there would no doubt be opposition to any rate increase.  Our top tier rate is currently $21.85 per CCF.  Nevertheless, I think that this is a concept worth considering and I certainly agree with the direction it would take us.  See this link.

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