What do you know about rainwater harvesting? This is a question you will start hearing soon from your customers.
As water conservation generates a higher profile in the media, more and more consumers, like the residents of Milwaukee, are interested in embarking on do-it-yourself conservation and reuse projects. Our cover story, “Simple Water Savings," details the success that the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has found with their thriving rain barrel program.
The public has embraced the program, as evidenced by the painted, personalized barrels spotted in area lawns. Community organizations have decorated donated barrels and auctioned off their unique artwork to the tune of more than $400.
If you think your primary aim as a water professional is treating drinking water, then you may think this has nothing to do with you or your business. But if you consider yourself an expert on residential water treatment, then this is your territory. Along with providing homeowners with ways to treat and perfect their potable water, you can provide them with ways to save money (and be kind to the environment) on nonpotable water use. The rainwater collected through rain barrels can be used for washing cars or pets, watering gardens and lawns, and anything else that doesn’t require potable water.
If you know you aren’t capable of providing full-service reuse capabilities, or the idea of adding another branch to your business isn’t feasable right now, consider partnering with a business that does offer rainwater harvesting. Providing referrals and offering partnership discounts can be a great way for both of you to break into new markets and gain new audiences for your products and services. Simply being a knowledgeable point of reference for consumers is a big credibility boost, especially among younger consumers.
Rainwater harvesting and other reuse technologies are not solely for the residential market, however. Many businesses are also seeking to save money on water bills and even earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design points through installing rainwater harvesting systems.
Getting started in the rain barrel business could be as easy as setting one up outside your storefront. Savvy consumers will recognize the barrels. If you have gotten involved in the reuse market, make sure you publicize your own success stories. After recent reports of contaminants in tap water across the country, the public could benefit from some positive water-related news.
A word of caution: be aware of any regional restrictions on rainwater harvesting. Especially in Western states, there are controversial laws and restrictions regarding state water rights and ownership. These restrictions are still evolving in many cases, so check with your local building, zoning, and environmental departments.
To learn more about rainwater harvesting, check out the following resources:
- American Rainwater Catchment Systems Assn.: www.arcsa.org 
- The Rainwater Harvesting Community: www.harvesth2o.com 
- U.S. Average Annual Precipitation Maps: www.wrcc.dri.edu/precip.html 
- Water Conservation Tips, Facts & Resources: www.wateruseitwisely.com 
Check your calendar! In the WQP Calendar that mailed with the December 2010 issue, WQA Aquatech USA 2011 was listed as taking place in Orlando, Fla. Please note that the tradeshow will actually be in San Antonio.