Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rainwater Harvesting

When San Diegans hear of Rainwater Harvesting eyebrows go up. The speaker is first labeled a left-leaning-extreme-thinker. Then the reasons why we cannot do rainwater harvesting start popping up - usually talk of perceived safety concerns of unclean water and reduction of quality of life.

Well here is how the ancient people made it work and cities lived comfortably as a result.

Note the following theme:

  1. Desert civilization - dry climate similar and at times worse than San Diego
  2. Respect - water was treated not as a commodity, but with respect
  3. Local solution - water not shipped from thousands of miles away
  4. Conservation - people used very less water per capita so everyone can use the precious resource
  5. Common purpose - everyone abides by the watershed boundaries and invests sweat equity
Yes, we can do Value Based Water Management in San Diego too. We need to will it. Rainwater Harvesting is just one such option. We can do this on a house to house level as well as on a community and regional  level. We just have to think outside the box. The water insecurity in San Diego right now is appalling with more than 80% of our water coming from outside the county. We have to move towards water security if we really want to see economic prosperity and quality of life.

On a house-to-house level, we have to install rain barrels to meet our irrigation needs. Contact your local entrepreneur for ideas and solutions.  Rainthanks is one such local micro business and they do a fantastic job. Of course, moving to attractive colorful xeriscape is a good option as well.

On a community level, we need to ask the policy makers to issue programs like this one in Oakland, CA. San Diego has a program, but it's not promoted at this time. In Brisbane, I have seen how effective these programs were. It's surely worth copying. And after this starts working, we need to start looking at harvesting stormwater in our local watersheds on a regional level to enhance our water security.

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