As utility bills skyrocket, it’s time to consider an easy-to-install rainwater harvesting system

The numbers paint a compelling picture

The topic of rainwater harvesting has received much attention, but South Africans seem to overlook its many benefits, including the fact that it’s free water, a gift from Mother Nature.

The average South African household uses approximately 7 500 litres of water per month, which equates to 90 000 litres per year.

So here’s a quick fact: if you have a roof area of 250 m2, and receive SA’s annual rainfall average of 450mm, you can harvest 112 500 litres of water per year. As municipalities generally employ a sliding scale where you pay more per kilolitre the higher your usage, an extra (free) 112 500 litres of water could end up saving you a truly significant amount of hard earned money – especially in the long run where future rate hikes are a certainty.

And there’s more good news. Experts from Builders point out that you can start with a basic setup and slowly upgrade your rainwater harvesting system so that it can, in the near future, be used for any household requirement, including drinking water (potable water).

Step 1: From roof to Jojo to garden

This is the simplest and cheapest setup and requires only a Jojo tank, PVC piping, a first flush diverter and a “leaf-eater” filter. Rainwater collected in your gutters flows into the appropriate down-pipe, under which the leaf-eater is situated. The leaf-eater catches leaves and other organic debris from the roof, protecting your stored water from contamination. Before this filtered water reaches your Jojo tank, however, the first flush diverter comes into play: the diverter is simply a vertical PVC pipe that ensures that the first few litres of water from your roof, which contains dust, debris and (possibly) chemicals, is directed away from the Jojo tank. The last line of defence is found at the top the Jojo, and like the leaf-eater, is a mesh filter. These three devices ensure that the water that ends up in the tank is as clean as possible, and perfectly suitable for garden use.

Stage 2: From roof to Jojo to pump to house/garden

The elements mentioned above stay the same in this stage, but as the quality of water in the Jojo is high, it can also be used for several household purposes, including showering, toilet cistern filling, dishwashing and laundry. If you’d like to direct water to your house, some plumbing changes will be needed for this stage, and an appropriately powered small pump (drawing power from an exterior plug) will also have to be added to create the necessary water pressure.

Stage 3: From roof and mains to Jojo to pump to house

The fully integrated system directs water from the roof and from the mains-supply into your Jojo tank, and stored water is then directed into filters that bring the water up to drinking standards before it is directed into the house. In this setup, you only draw water from the mains once the water level in the Jojo has breached a minimum pre-set, and you’ll have drinkable water even when water-supply disruptions occur.

For further info about getting a Jojo tank installed on your property, go to your nearest Builders, shop online, or check out this great advice.

Caxton Central

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