Stormwater retention/reuse

Bobbi Chukran chukran at
Fri Sep 25 10:04:46 EDT 1998

Howdy from Texas!
I'm not an expert by any means, but I think the answer to some of your
problems might be  rainwater collection systems on new schools, churches,
government buildings, etc.  We put one in when we built our new home, and
catch all our drinking, bathing, cooking, garden irrigation and household
use water from rain.   It's pH neutral, so I can practically see my garden
grow overnight after watering!

The trick is to use metal roofing (so you don't get particulates from the
roof material in it), with gutters and downspouts all the way around, so
all rain that falls will be caught.  Ours is hooked up with PVC pipes and
flows downhill into two 8,500 gallon fiberglass food-grade tanks.  We have
a regular well pump that pumps the water back up the hill to the house.
The water has a UV-light on it to kill any possible bacteria, and various
filters to filter out any sediment.  The plumbing is fairly simple--a
regular plumber who's familiar with these systems hooked ours up for us.

Although there is water here, and most of our neighbors are on a well
system, they frequently have to redrill, each year going deeper and deeper.
We've been in a drought situation, and there is a lot of farming in the
area (possible pesticides), so we thought it safer to go ahead and put in
the system now.

We did go through two droughts in the last two years, and we had more than
enough water to last us through the dry spells.  Even though this was one
of the driest years in Texas recorded history, our tanks are full and will
last us through most of next summer.

My husband, being an engineer, was skeptical at first, but after seeing a
video and hearing a talk by a surgeon in Austin, TX, was convinced that
rainwater collection was the way to go for us.  There is a formula (I can
get it if you want), that tells for every square foot of roofing, how much
water you can collect per inch of rain.  It's amazing how it adds up.  I
can also get you the name of the surgeon that recommended it to us, and
ordering information for the video.  I think he travels throughout the
world (Africa), consulting on these type systems.  His name is Dr. Michael
McElveen, and lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, near Austin, where he works.

Another of our neighbors put in a collection sytem after seeing ours, but
instead of the fiberglass tanks,  put in an underground cement cistern to
collect their water.  So, there are all kinds of ways that the water can be
collected and used on a large scale--fish ponds, public swimming pools,
irrigation for orchards, etc.

Like I said, I'm just a "civilian", gardener, and person who feels really
good about collecting the "free" rainwater for use.  Although the system
wasn't inexpensive, we feel that it will repay itself in less than 5 years.
On a large, commercial basic, the pay back time might be less, especially
if you don't have to put in expensive drainage to take care of the
stormwater instead.

I hope this helps in some small way--If you have any other questions,
please feel free to e-mail me and I'll try to find out the answers.

Bobbi Chukran
chukran at
Leander, Texas, USA

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