Generally speaking, rainwater that has been collected and stored in a water tank after it has fallen down on the roof is safe for consumption by anyone, children included. Rain, after all, is clean in and of itself. However, in order to ensure that the rainwater collected and stored is safe for consumption by all, it’s not enough to place a number of filters and meshes on the downspout that feeds a barrel of rainwater. As a matter of fact, it’s no longer advisable to collect rainwater using the downspout and barrel method—experts recommend that a rainwater harvesting system which has the following components be setup in one’s home instead, where they are legal.
Tips to Make Drinking Rainwater Safe for Your Little Ones
By setting up a rainwater harvesting system with all the components mentioned below, you will be certain that you will have rainwater that’s ready for consumption at any time it is needed—in the immediate future, or a much later time.
Essential Components of a Rainwater Harvesting System
* Catchment area
The catchment area refers to any roof that’s used in the context of rainwater harvesting. And most roofing materials these days are considered suitable for use in harvesting rainwater. The best one to use for your rainwater harvesting system, however, is an unpainted metal roof. The typical metal roof does not have any minute components that can get leached by passing rainwater, and will stay contaminant-free as long as it stays unpainted.
* Drainage system
The drainage system of the rainwater harvesting system is a network of gutters, drain pipes, and the downspout that ultimately leads to the rainwater storage tank. The best components for this system are those deemed food grade, which help ensure the suitability of all water that flows down it for consumption.
* Meshes, filters, first flush diverter, and purification system
These are scattered around different parts of the rainwater harvesting system, and are the main reason why this type of rainwater collection system is a more preferable option when it comes to getting rain that can be used for any chore. Meshes prevent the entry of large contaminants like twigs, leaves, and bird droppings. Filters are capable of preventing the entry of microscopic contaminants and some microscopic organisms. The first flush diverter is a device that removes the first flow of rainwater that gets into the system after several rainless days.
Purification systems are not necessarily mechanical means of cleaning rainwater. There also exist chemical purification methods, as well as those which make use of UV radiation. Regardless of what you have chosen, it can completely eliminate all traces of contaminants and pollutants that may have remained in the water even if it has passed the meshes, filters, and first flush diverter of the system. That said, purification systems are not expected to work if the water has not gone through filtration.
* Rainwater storage tank
You need a rainwater storage tank because it stores and keeps clean the rainwater that gets there until it’s time for it to be used.
There are many variants of a rainwater storage tank, and they are usually made of either poly or steel. Concrete water tanks exist, but concrete is often used to fashion underground water tanks.
While meshes are usually setup elsewhere, tanks can also have meshes, specifically at their openings.
When it’s time to use the collected rainwater, it’s the water pump that allows the even flow and distribution of that collected rainwater to parts of the house’s plumbing the rainwater harvesting system is connected to. That said, it follows that a pump makes it easy for you to use all the rainwater collected in the tank.
Maintenance of the Rainwater Harvesting System
The proper installation of the above components of the rainwater harvesting system is more than enough to ensure the suitability of rainwater for consumption, even by little children. But without proper maintenance, the system will soon permit the entry of contaminants and pollutants which can compromise the quality of rainwater. That said, it’s important that the following maintenance steps be done every now and then.
* Ensure that the catchment area is without contaminants of any sort.
* Inspect and clean both gutters and roofs regularly—remove all overhanging branches.
* Inspect and clean water tank outlet and inlet screens so as to prevent the entry of mosquitoes and vermin into the tank itself.
* Every mesh, screen, filter, and first flush diverter must be cleaned and checked on a regular basis.
* The tank must be desludged every three years or so.
* Assess the tank’s structure from time to time, making sure to check for leaks that should be fixed right away.
* Both mains control switch and pump must be assessed in order to ensure proper functioning.
* Make sure that every leak is repaired in order to prevent the cyclic starts and stops of a common pump which could happen in the event of a leak or maybe a dripping tap.