As I witnessed the buckets of water falling from the sky, splatting onto the roof tiles of my neighbor’s home, pouring from the roof gutter to the corner downspout, dropping into a PVC pipe and rushing underneath the thirsty, if not already dead landscape, then directed into the concrete swale adjacent to the curb and flooding the storm water drain from both sides, I was reminded of the simple practice and benefits of harvesting rainwater. Within seconds, a droplet of rainwater falls from the sky and into a manmade pipe that exits out into the ocean. Water that could be reused and provide positive ecological and environmental practices is literally being swept under our feet before we know it.
As you probably already know, California is in one of the biggest droughts we have EVER seen. Although I know we can make the case for the huge positive impacts of our current storm water management, there is a time to reassess our storm water practices, and I believe that time is now. Our current rainwater practices aren’t contributing to the astronomical potential of the reuse of rainwater. The hydrologic cycle is being sped up instead of slowed down to take full advantage of the limited rainwater we do receive.
All that being said, you may ask.. what exactly is rainwater harvesting? And is it practical for me to invest in the harvesting of rainwater? I am glad you asked :)
What is rainwater harvesting and its potential and practical use?
Rainwater harvesting is the collection of rainfall which falls on the roof of your home and stores it for future use. In a typical Central Coast residential landscape, a homeowner with 2,000 square feet of roof space can store and reuse, on average, 25,000 gallons per year... enough to maintain a 400 square foot lawn and 100 landscape plants!
Why should we harvest rainwater?
· FREE source of water.
· Water your landscape all year without drawing from your well or local water supply.
· Readily available water storage for fire suppression.
· Onsite emergency water storage.
· Minimizes your environmental footprint.
· Rainwater is pure, soft, and reduces corrosion on irrigation lines.
· Develop a landscape that is self-sustaining.
· Recharge the aquifer instead of sending your rainwater directly into the ocean.
Imagine, if one region of the United States (let’s say the Central Coast) implemented rainwater harvesting in their homes, commercial buildings, schools, etc. Myself and the Purlieu team have calculated and discovered that its return on investment is very similar to solar panels. We have found that some of our recent rainwater harvesting systems will provide a full turn in investment within 5 years! Sounds pretty sweet…
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Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful day!
My name is Michael Vogt. I graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture in 2014. In my 7 years in San Luis Obispo I have always enjoyed reading blogs from multiple websites of interest. It’s always encouraging to hear the amazing stories and exciting news coming out of the businesses, churches, families, schools and all the other community gatherings around the Central Coast.
I am honored to start the new year with a fresh blog for a company I am passionate about and fully believe in, Purlieu Landscapes. My hope is that through these blogs the readers and I would grow in our knowledge of sustainable practices that provide a lasting legacy for our future generations.
Why don't we start with our most precious resource... water.
It seems like throughout the County there are questions constantly being asked about our water situation in San Luis Obispo County (what do we do? How do we do it? Is it going to cost a lot of money? How practical is it?) What is the most effective and efficient way we can solve our current water crisis? Below, is a brief summary of what I have found to be a solution to the questions so many people in our community have.
The vision of Purlieu is to design and build landscapes and provide a new water source to support the new landscape. Our inspiration is to enable the continuation of edible and ornamental landscaping without putting additional strain on the site’s potable water system. We assess, design and install rainwater harvesting systems that meet or exceed the landscapes annual water use, and the rainfall received on the site from the past year’s rainy season acts as that water source. This process eliminates the need for potable water and sustains a healthy garden for years to come.
We have seen a water surplus through the storage of rainwater on many properties throughout the Central Coast. We currently have over 169,000 gallons of rainwater storage tanks in landscapes throughout the County, and many still have water from the 2015/2016 rainfall. Our technique of assessing the water needs and enabling a collection system that provides this new water source has helped many rural and urban homeowner’s enjoy their landscape without needing to worry about the water needed to let their gardens really thrive.
Purlieu was recently permitted to install a 15,000 gallon rainwater harvesting system at a residence in Arroyo Grande, Ca. It was the City of Arroyo Grande's first ever permitted large rainwater harvesting system in a residential neighborhood, and it was completed just in time to capture October’s first rain!
As we launch into the new year we are so excited for what is in store for the Central Coast community and all the sustainable practices being implimented in the different local businesses. For more information on rainwater harvesting practices check out: http://www.arcsa.org/
Thanks for reading!