Green Your Life

Published on February 24th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Rainwater Collection Could Save U.S. Urbanites $90 Million a Year (Wow)

February 24th, 2012 by

rainwater collection urban

Saving rainwater is cool, it’s eco-cool, and it sounds like fun. But wow, I wasn’t aware it could save urban dwellers in the U.S. urbanites a whopping $90 million a year!

A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council finds:

“Even under conservative assumptions, the study demonstrates that each city modeled can capture hundreds of millions to billions of gallons of rainwater each year, equivalent to the total annual water use of tens to hundreds of thousands of residents.”


Zachary Rybarczyk of Climate Progress writes:

“And the yearly savings could be far greater for Americans than $90 million. The eight cities profiled in the NRDC analysis are only a snapshot of the different regions around the country.”

Beyond saving money, there are other major benefits to rainwater collection, of course. Here’s more on what some of those benefits are from Rybarczyk:

The report lists four major benefits of capturing urban rainfall:

  • Inexpensive, on-site supply of water that can be used for outdoor non-potable uses with little, if any, treatment, or for a variety of additional uses including potable supply with appropriately higher levels of treatment
  • Reduced (or no) energy and economic costs associated with treating and delivering potable water to end users because capture systems often use low-volume, non-pressurized, gravity fed systems or require only the use of a low power pump for supply
  • Reduced strain on existing water supply sources
  • Reduced runoff that would otherwise contribute to storm water flows, a leading cause of surface water pollution and urban flooding

Lightly or non-treated, non-potable water, collected in rainwater basins, has the potential to replace nearly 80 percent of daily residential water usage (clothes washing, toilet flushing, and outdoor uses) that does not require drinking water.

Rooftop containment also has the potential improve water quality around metropolitan areas by preventing excess storm water (often filled with sewage, toxins, and chemicals that coat our sidewalks and streets) from washing into rivers, streams, and beaches. In fact, the EPA views urban runoff as “one of the greatest threats to water quality in the country,” and one of the leading causes of surface water pollution.

This is actually something I learned about and worked on a bit back when I was an urban/city planner. Everything above fits what I learned. So, on to it—let’s collect some rainwater!

Photo: Rainwater collection tank via shutterstock

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

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