The Importance of Rainwater Harvesting in Canada

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Rainwater harvesting is an innovative and sustainable practice that has gained significant importance in Canada, especially in recent years. As a country abundant in water resources, Canada often faces the challenge of managing this precious commodity effectively. Rainwater harvesting, a technique that involves collecting and storing rainwater for various uses, has emerged as a crucial solution. The significance of rainwater harvesting in Canada and its numerous benefits for everyone cannot be overstated.

Water Conservation and Management

Rainwater harvesting plays a pivotal role in conserving water resources in Canada. Despite its vast freshwater reserves, certain regions of the country experience water scarcity during dry seasons or droughts, as well as Boil Water Advisories, inadequate infrastructure, and other reasons that make safe & sanitary water unavailable. By collecting rainwater, households, businesses, and agricultural operations can supplement their water needs and reduce the demand for potable water. This practice not only eases the burden on municipal water supplies but also promotes responsible water management.

Mitigating Stormwater Runoff

Urbanization and impervious surfaces like roads and buildings disrupt the natural water cycle, leading to increased stormwater runoff. This runoff can carry pollutants and contaminants into water bodies, posing significant environmental challenges. Rainwater harvesting systems can alleviate this issue by capturing rainwater before it becomes runoff and directing it into storage tanks or permeable surfaces. This helps in recharging groundwater aquifers and protecting local ecosystems from pollution.

Supporting Sustainable Agriculture

Canada’s agricultural sector heavily relies on water for irrigation, especially during dry periods. Rainwater harvesting can be a boon for farmers, providing an additional water source for crop irrigation and livestock needs. By integrating rainwater harvesting systems into agricultural practices, farmers can reduce their dependence on freshwater sources and contribute to sustainable farming practices.

Why Harvest Rainwater?

Reduced Water Bills

One of the most immediate benefits of rainwater harvesting is a reduced reliance on municipal water supplies. Utilizing collected rainwater for non-potable purposes such as gardening, car washing, and toilet flushing can significantly lower household or business water bills. This financial advantage motivates individuals and organizations to invest in rainwater harvesting systems, promoting its widespread adoption.

Environmentally Friendly

Collecting rainwater is a friendly way to help the environment and support sustainable development goals. When we use less water from regular sources, thanks to rainwater collection, we don’t stress out nature as much, and we use up less energy to treat and move water around. Also, it’s handy for cooling down buildings and fighting the urban heat island effect.

Resilience to Climate Change

As climate change continues to affect global weather patterns, Canada is no exception to its impacts. The country experiences extreme weather events, such as intense storms and prolonged droughts, which affect water availability. Rainwater harvesting provides an adaptive strategy to enhance resilience against such climatic uncertainties. By capturing rainwater during wet periods, our communities can establish a reserve that they can use during dry spells, guaranteeing a dependable water supply even in challenging times.

Rainwater harvesting has emerged as a vital technique in Canada to address water conservation, stormwater management, and sustainable agriculture. By promoting the use of rainwater harvesting systems, Canadians can make a positive impact on water resources, reduce water bills, and contribute to environmental preservation. Embracing this innovative practice will not only secure water availability for future generations but also help build a more resilient and sustainable Canada.

FAQ - Rainwater Harvesting in Canada

Fresh rain fall from the sky that has not yet come into contact with any ground surfaces. When collected from a roof surface, rainwater maintains its natural quality.

Rainwater resulting from a rainfall event that has touched the ground surface and remains unmanaged at the source. Stormwater must be further managed along the flow path through storm water systems.

Water present below the earth’s surface, stored in aquifers and available through wells.

Surface Water:
Water present on the earth’s surface, including lakes, streams, and rivers.

GUDI (Groundwater Under Direct Influence of Surface Water):
Refers to shallow wells or areas where ground water is directly influenced by surface water, such as foundation drainage.

Potable Water:
Water that is safe for human contact, consumption, and food preparation.

Grey water:
Once-used water discharged from washing machines, showers, bathtubs, bathroom sinks, etc. Grey water does not contain fecal / urine contamination.

Black water:
Once-used water discharged from kitchen sinks and toilets, which may contain fecal / urine contamination.

Rainwater harvesting has two main processes: the collection and reuse of rainwater.

Rainwater collection involves the use of specialized storage systems designed to prefilter and gather rainwater through catchment, conveyance, and storage. It’s important to note using a roof surface to collect rainwater is best to maintain purity. If rainwater comes into contact with the ground, it becomes classified as stormwater, and due to higher contamination levels, treating stormwater for reuse requires different, more expensive technology compared to rainwater.

We achieve rainwater reuse by putting rainwater pumps, filters, treatment, and controls into action. These make sure that the collected rainwater goes where it’s needed and meets safety standards for its intended uses.

Properly planned rainwater harvesting systems can provide all the water needs and serve a wide range of purposes. These systems are increasingly being integrated into urban settings across Canada to reduce water demand on community infrastructure. Rainwater harvesting can be as simple as using a rain barrel at the end of a downspout or as sophisticated as employing a multiple-end-use underground storage system. Harvested rainwater can be used outside for irrigation, indoors for toilet flushing and laundry, and with proper sanitation, even as drinking water.

The scope, treatment method, and technologies of the rainwater harvesting system will vary depending on the specific end-use of the water. We offer comprehensive solutions, addressing everything from the roof to the tap and every detail in between, to ensure efficient rainwater harvesting and usage.

  1. Financial Benefit:
    • Save money through water re-use.
    • Reduce water bills, including city storm sewer charges.
    • Alleviate demand on city water supplies.
    • Significant cost savings over time.
  2. Storm Water Management:
    • Catch and manage storm water, reducing flooding risks around the foundation area.
    • Capture urban runoff to prevent erosion, property floods, and contamination.
  3. Access to Potable Water:
    • Obtain a free, high-quality water source from Mother Nature.
    • Enjoy soft water with a neutral pH.
    • Avoid disinfection by products, salts, minerals, and other contaminants.
    • Store seasonal rainfall for use during droughts and water bans.

Rainwater harvesting is an emerging movement that promotes environmentally ethical and sustainable communities. By using this practice, individuals can actively join in water and energy resource reuse and recycling. Rainwater harvesting contributes to the overall goal of sustainable housing and community infrastructure and serves as a step towards adopting a green lifestyle paradigm. Furthermore, reusing water helps conserve significant amounts of energy, benefiting both the environment and the community. For example, the City of Toronto spends approximately 33% of its annual electricity use on water pumping and treatment.

Our Rainwater Systems are designed to be used for three different levels:

  • Irrigation only
  • Toilets, laundry, and irrigation
  • Drinking potable water and human contact

Rainwater harvesting systems are subject to local building codes in each jurisdiction. Our rainwater systems adhere to CSA standards for rainwater and stormwater re-use. They are engineered to comply with the specific laws, regulations, and guidelines required for obtaining permits in each municipality. Cleanflo ensures that your project meets the necessary criteria for approval and success.

For a comprehensive rain harvesting system integrated into a building, it is crucial to seek expert advice for designing the system and obtaining regulatory permission.

During the installation of a rain harvesting system, it is essential to provide clear warnings against cross-connecting rain harvesting lines with indoor potable lines. Additionally, all pipes and faucets, whether indoors or outdoors, should be appropriately marked as ‘non-potable supplies not suitable for drinking.

The Gross potential volume of rain that can be harvested from your roof is based on two main factors roof area and rainfall.  A single square metre (ROOF AREA) multiplied by 1 millimetre of rain (Rainfall) equals 1 litre of water, is the rule of thumb.

The actual amount of rainwater harvested will be less due to loss from wind, roofing material, prefilter and overflow events.

the Size of rainwater systems cistern is determined by three factors:

  1. Catchment area (the area of the roof).
  2. Intended use and expected daily water needs (in liters or required rainwater).
  3. Potential rainfall amounts (based on location).

After calculating the ideal amount of rainwater that can be collected, users need to assess if their anticipated water needs will surpass the available rainwater. In case additional water is required, this can be accomplished by either supplementing rainwater with municipal water supply or by incorporating the utilization of grey water sources.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has issued guidelines for rainwater harvesting systems, which include tables to help estimate the optimal rainwater cistern size.

Our rainwater systems can be used all year and WILL NOT freeze.

  • Seasonal rainwater systems need to be decommissioned in winter months.  A seasonal rainwater system uses a rainwater tank that is NOT heated or buried below frost line.
  • Year -Round rainwater systems DO NOT need to be decommissioned in winter months. The rainwater tank is usually in a heated location or buried below frost line. As well the inter-connective piping is installed to meet the requirements for Year – Round rainwater system installation.

Additional Resources

UN-Water – https://www.unwater.org/

Cleanflo Water Technologies – https://www.harvestingrainwater.ca/

Global Institute for Water Security. University of Saskatchewan – https://water.usask.ca/

Canadian Government – Collecting Rainwater at home

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