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Flushing Your Toilets With Harvested Rainwater Could Save the Planet



Water shortages are the worst nightmare of any city, and as summer is to come in a few months, they will be more likely to happen, at least in places like California.

A team of researchers from Drexel University are encouraging people to harvest rainwater for flushing their toilets. They said that rain falling on cities like Philadelphia, New York, Seattle and Chicago is enough to flush toilets and spare potable water.

“People have been catching and using rain water for ages, but it’s only been in the last 20-30 years that we have realized that this is something that could be done systematically in certain urban areas to ease all different kinds of stresses on watersheds; potable water treatment and distribution systems; and urban drainage infrastructure,” said Franco Montalto, P.E., PhD, an associate professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, and director of its Sustainable Water Resource Engineering Lab, who led the research effort.

“The study looks at four of the largest metropolitan areas in the country to see if it rains enough to make implementation feasible and, if everyone did it, what effect it would have on domestic water demand and stormwater runoff generation in those cities.”

The study started as the graduate thesis of Drexel alumnus Nathan Rostad, covers all sorts of scenarios, and is backed by numbers. It says that an average family would need a little more than a 1,000-gallon home storage tank laden with rainwater to cover over 80% of their flushes and save potable water.

“Philadelphia and Seattle are the two cities where percent water savings would be greatest if residential neighborhoods were all equipped with rainwater harvesting systems,” says the study.

A lot of factors would have to be considered before implementing such a system. Rainwater has its important role in the ecosystem, in that it replenishes underground rivers, feeds plants and cleans soil pollutants. However, it seems natural that if saving drinking water is good both for economic reasons and for pollution reduction. Our grandparents used rainwater for all sorts of activities, so why couldn’t we?


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