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Rain Water Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater harvesting in broad sense can be defined as the collection of runoff for human consumption. There
are various techniques for collection process such as the collection from the rooftops and the land surface as
well as within watercourses. The water thus collected is often used for different purposes including drinking,
cooking, washing, bathing, watering cattle and agriculture.

In coastal belt and hilly region of Bangladesh, there is scarcity of suitable water sources. The coastal areas
suffer from high salinity in surface and ground waters and the hilly areas suffer from absence of surface and
groundwater sources for the development of dependable water supply systems. The average annual rainfall in
the coastal and hilly regions is more than 3000mm, against an average rainfall of about 2200 mm in
Bangladesh. The collection and storage of rainwater may be an alternate option of water supply in these areas.
Rainwater harvesting is also a potential water supply option in the acute arsenic affected areas of Bangladesh.
There are two main constraints in development of a completely rainwater based water supply system:

Availability of suitable catchment area

The need for larger storage tank

A large catchment for rainwater collection is needed if the designed water supply is based on rainwater. Again
larger storage reservoir is required to encounter unequal distribution of rainfall throughout the year.

The advantages and disadvantages of rainwater harvesting over the other water supply scheme are given in
Table 1.

Table 1: Advantages and Disadvantages of Rainwater Harvesting

Advantages Disadvantages
The quality of rainwater is comparatively good; The initial cost may prevent a family to install
The system is independent and therefore suitable a rainwater harvesting system;
for scattered settlements; The water availability is limited by the rainfall
Local materials and craftsmanship can be used intensity and available roof area;
in construction of rainwater harvesting system; Mineral-free rainwater has a flat taste, which
No energy cost is needed to run the system; may not be liked by many;
Easy maintenance by the owner / user; Mineral-free water may cause nutrition
The system can be located very close to the deficiencies in people who are already on
consumption points. mineral deficient diet;
The poorer section of people may not have
roofs suitable for rainwater harvesting.

Rainwater Availability
Rainwater is available in adequate quantities in Bangladesh. From the spatial distribution of rainfall in
Bangladesh it is observed that relatively higher rainfall occurs in the eastern part of the country and the
highest rainfall occurs in the north-eastern region and eastern part of the coastal area. The lowest rainfall,
less than 1500mm, occurs in the western part of Bangladesh. In the coastal and hilly areas, with a greater
fresh water source problem, rainfall is higher which is favourable for rainwater harvesting.

From the last ten-year mean rainfall intensity record, it appears that the average rainfall in the country during
1987-96 varied from 1950 to 2800mm, i.e. 1.95 to 2.80 m3 of rainwater was available per m2 of catchment
area each year for development of a rainwater based water supply system. However, there are some losses in
the collection system. The available rainwater can be estimated by the equation 1:

Q = C I A .....................(1)

Where, Q is the total quantity of rainwater available in m3/year, C is the coefficient of available runoff, I is the
rainfall intensity in m/year and A is the catchment area in m2.

Rainwater Catchment

Rooftop catchment
The catchment area for rainwater collection is usually the roof, which is connected with a gutter system to
lead rainwater to a storage tank. Figure 1 shows a schematic diagram of the rooftop collection system.

Storage tank

Figure 1: Rooftop Catchment System

Rainwater can be collected from any types of roof but concrete, tiles and metal roofs give cleanest water. Roof
made of asbestos or painted with lead based paints should be avoided. The C.I. sheet roofs commonly used in
Bangladesh perform well as catchment areas. A thatched roof can also be used as catchment area by covering
it with polyethylene but it requires good skills to guide water to the storage tank. In coastal areas, cloths fixed
at four corners with a pitcher underneath are used during rainfall for rainwater collection. But the poorer
section of the people in our country have smaller size thatched roof or no roof at all, which can be used as
catchment for rainwater collection. The minimum catchment area A, required for the collection of rainwater
for N number of people supplied with q litres per capita per day (lpcd) of water can be derived from equation

A = 0.365 q N/(C I) .....................(2)

About 25% of the rainwater may be assumed to be lost by evaporation and by washing the catchment area.
The catchment area is usually washed using first rain, which produces inferior quality rainwater. For an
average annual rainfall of 2.4 m/yr, and a coefficient of runoff of 0.75, equation 2 can be written in the
following form:

A = 0.203 q N .....................(3)

Storage tank:
The unequal distribution of rainfall over the year requires storage of rainwater during the rainy season for use
in the dry season. The minimum volume of the storage rainwater tank V, required for can be computed by the
equation 4:

V = 0.365 f q N .....................(4)

Where f is the fraction of total available rainwater required to be stored for consumption at a constant rate
throughout the year.

Quality of rainwater is good, but it does not mean that rainwater is completely free from contamination. Wind
blown dirt and bird droppings contribute some pollution. The rainwater lacks mineral salts including fluorides
and calcium salts whose presence in water supply is considered essential in appropriate proportions. The
mineral salts in natural ground and surface waters sometimes impart pleasing taste to water. If the storage
tank is completely covered and the organic debris are prevented from entering into the tank by means of
suitable trainer or filter, any bacteria or parasites carried with the flowing rainwater will tend to die off. Thus
rainwater drawn from clean tank several days after the first rainfall will be of better bacteriological quality
than fresh rainwater.

Rainwater collected from roof after long dry period may carry noticeable amounts of debris arising from
accumulated dust, leaves and bird or animal droppings on the roof and gutter. It is recommended that water
running off the roof during first 10-20 minutes of rainfall should be discarded. Cleaning of the roof and gutter
at the beginning of rainy season and their regular maintenance, are very important to ensure better quality of
rainwater. The storage tank requires cleaning at least once in a year.

Ex.1: Calculate the rainwater available for a family having a roof area of 20m2 in the central region of
Bangladesh, where rainfall intensity is 2.0 m per year. Assume a runoff coefficient of 0.75.

Soln.: Quantity of rainwater available , Q = C IA [ here, C = 0.75; I = 2.0 m/yr; A = 20m2]

Q = 0.75 x 2.0 x 20 = 30m3/yr. Ans.

Ex.2: The average rainfall intensity in Bangladesh is 2.4 m/yr and the runoff coefficient is 0.70. Calculate the
minimum catchment area required for a family of 7 persons to be supplied with 15 lpcd of water.

Soln..: The catchment area is, A = 0.365 q N/(C I) [here, C = 0.7; I = 2.4 m/yr; N = 7; q = 15lpcd]

A = 0.365 x 15 x 7/(0.7 x 2.4) = 22.8 m3 Ans.

Ex.3: Calculate the minimum capacity of the storage tank required for a family of 8 persons to be supplied
with 10 lpcd of rainwater. The yearly rainfall intensity is 2.5 m and the rainfall duration is such that at least
35% of the rainwater must be stored for uninterrupted water supply throughout the year. Also calculate the
minimum catchment area required when the coefficient of runoff is 0.7.

Soln.: Storage volume required V = 0.365 f q N [here, f = 0.35; N = 8; q = 10 lpcd]

V = 0.365 x 0.35 x 10 x 8 = 10.22 m3 Ans.

Catchment area, A = 0.365 q N/(C I) [here, C = 0.7; I = 2.5 m/yr; N = 8; q = 10 lpcd]

A = 0.365 x 10 x 8 x /(0.7 x 2.5) = 29.2/1.75 = 16.69 m2 Ans.