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Introduction: Rainwater harvesting and recycling as part of a sustainable water strategy

Rainwater harvesting has been around for centuries, rainwater harvesting systems are widely used all over the world. Water is a valuable resource and plays an important role in sustainable development. As climate changes influence our weather patterns, and mains water becomes even more of a precious resource. Water shortage is predicted to become common in certain parts of the UK in the summer months, followed by flash flooding due to the higher intense storm events. With the increasing house building getting carried out, existing surface water sewers are unable to cope leading to localised flooding. Up to 50% of drinking water that is currently used can be safely replaced with rain water without any problems. A higher standard of living results in an increased demand for high water using appliances, such as power showers and garden watering systems. Rainwater is the original source of all our water supplies, as it supplies reservoirs and rivers, rain water system uses water collected rather than letting it drain away. Rainwater harvesting helps reduce demand from the mains water supply and greywater recycling has the potential to reduce demand from the mains water supply.

Reducing Water Demand

The real picture is we are all using more and more water in our homes around 150 litres per person a day, with around 33% of that water being used with flushed the toilet. Water demand management is a way of educating people in how to change the culture of how people use water. For example, by installing flow regulators in taps and shower this can save up to 50% of water consumption, a lot of WC are still flushing with 9 litres of water if we installing a WC with a 6/4 litre flush this can save up to 12,000 litres of water a year, also buying water efficient dishwashers and washing machines, you can also install a rain water storage butt for use in the garden. In the last few years in certain areas of the UK hosepipe bans were implemented, although demand for garden watering is less than 3% of the overall demand for a house. If all new developments in the UK had a large store to collect winter rain for use in the summer months, the requirement for hosepipe bans could be lessened.

Water Efficiency
Typical savings of potable main water use in domestic properties fitted with rain water harvesting systems are generally anything up to 52% and can be up to 80% in some commercial properties. To understand where it is easiest to save water it is important to know where water is used. Substantial water demand reduction can be achieved by using water efficient appliances. Simple measures like dual flush WCs in place of 6 litre single flush WCs, flow regulators on taps and showers, and A-rated washing machines and dishwashers can save water in a typical household.

Typical non-potable water consumption is toilet flushing, washing clothes and garden watering.
Toilet Flushing Rainwater is perfect for toilet flushing, the highest consumer of water in domestic buildings. WC flushing is the largest proportion of water at an average 33% demand. The rain water systems incorporate a mains water backup to maintain operation if sufficient rainwater is not available. In offices and schools some WCs are still flushing with 9 litres of water and many urinals still flush 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Installing a dual 6/4 litre dual flush will help cut water wastage. Using rainwater for this purpose can cut mains water consumption. Laundry Washing The actual water consumption is often over looked; we are looking at around 15 litres per person a day. Car Washing Recycled rainwater can be used for washing cars. Garden Use Recycled rainwater is ideal for watering the garden; rainwater will keep grass and plants watered and healthy.