The ancient practice of rainwater harvest is uncommon in urban areas that have municipal water services. Traditional infrastructure treats rainwater as a nuisance that must be disposed of as quickly as possible. However, San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission has set the stage for rain to become an important resource rather than a waste. Confronted with chronic storm water problems and a state-wide drought, San Francisco has launched a unique rainwater harvesting program. The city-wide initiative has all the expected features – discounted rain barrels, how-to guides, and workshops – but that’s just the beginning. Public officials have also laid the foundation for rainwater catchment to play a much bigger role in the city. A pilot program offering San Franciscans their first ready-to-install 60-gallon rain barrel at a greatly discounted price.
The new program was launched at an elementary school where a five-barrel, 275-gallon capacity rain catchment system had been installed along with a small vegetable garden. Residents are now being encouraged think about using rainwater – instead of clean drinking water – to flush their toilets. Residents are becoming more and more aware of cost-cutting measures and invaluable resources for water conservation. San Francisco’s combined sewer system, which treats both storm water and sanitary sewage, will also benefit from increased rainwater system installation through minimized neighborhood flooding and reduced combined sewer discharges into the San Francisco Bay or Pacific Ocean during very major winter storms.
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An Oldie But Goodie For Reuse of Rainwater