Harvesting water a viable option

While great focus is being placed on finding solutions to address the water woes affecting some persons in some rural parts of the island, and this is commendable, wider Barbados must play a greater role in not only conserving water, but harvesting water to take the burden of supply off of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and so as not to fully feel the effects of the various restrictions placed on the usage of water at present.

We all know by now that water conservation is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound way to reduce the demand for water, which will stretch our total water supply farther. Let us consider, however, that rainwater harvesting or water harvesting, as it can also be referred to, is becoming a viable alternative for supplying households and businesses with water.

Simply put, rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and storage of rainwater for reuse on-site, rather than allowing it to run off. So catching rainwater and using it to assist in our daily lives can be a means of removing partial or total dependency for water from the BWA.

With rainwater harvesting, thousands of gallons of water can be saved and used to flush toilets; for laundry; in the garden and for watering lawns; for irrigation systems; for agricultural purposes; for washing vehicles; bathing pets; refilling outdoor fountains, fish ponds and aquariums; washing driveways and sidewalks; and even for industrial processes.

Admittedly, it is not a blanket solution to all our water problems, but rainwater harvesting has been looked at as part of the solutions process and indeed, it has its merit. The proposals for desalination plants, the move to have additional water trucks, a water reuse policy and infrastructural upgrades are steps in the right direction and rainwater harvesting can complement other possible solutions put forward to address the water woes as well. The suggestion to engage in rainwater harvesting must however be adopted by the majority of householders, who are serious about doing their part to conserve and reuse water and preserve water supplies.

The collection of rainwater, when one does have access to it, can take a huge burden off the BWA and it is an excellent back-up source in times of drought, low water pressure and when there are problems with the public supply. If rainwater harvesting is put into practice, schools and businesses would not need to close when the BWA cannot supply water to some areas and life can continue without much interruption.

The fact that you own your “rainwater” gives you control over how you use it. It is simple to construct and easy to maintain with little cost and your rainwater harvesting system can be designed according to what you can afford or want. Some persons might start with one plastic tank while others might build a more elaborate system.

It is clear now therefore, that we need as a nation to look in broader terms at rainwater harvesting as one of our plausible solutions, to address this matter of water scarcity. It is high time Barbadians take some action to reduce the drain on water resources in the country.

Barbados Advocate

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