Roof Water Harvesting In California
In California, the atmospheric patterns associated with droughts have frequently occurred in the recent years. Extreme temperatures, pressure patterns, and little precipitation have reduced the amount of rainfall throughout the years. The high atmospheric pressure patterns and the high ridges disrupt typical winds by directing winter storms northwards, thereby preventing them from reaching California. The record levels have drawn attention to the requirement to ensure water management strategies. However, according to Swain et al. (2014), the California state’s obsolete and unsustainable water infrastructure system threatens the efficient delivery of water even in non-drought weather conditions (p.95). California state primary water reservoir includes Lake Shanta, San Luis Reservoir, and Lake Oroville which account for 36 percent, 47 percent, and 36 percent respectively. California’s current drought patterns reveal weaknesses in water management and supply policies due to the unpredictable water supply.
Magnitude of the Need of Roof Water Harvesting
The availability of water in California has been unreliable over the years and the demand for its use increases daily. According to Wang, Hipps, Gillies and Yoon (2014), 80 percent of developed water supply get consumed by municipal needs, industries, and agriculture (p.123). However, California has become reliant on water-intensive industries due to drought weather conditions. For instance, water-intensive industries and agriculture account for only two percent of the total gross domestic product of the state.
California exhibits surface water shortage. Since the 1970s, the State Water Project and the Central Federal Valley Project have developed no significant infrastructure for creating a stable water supply. The projects lead to designing reservoirs that could store surface water for 19 million individuals who currently form half of the entire population of California. Therefore, the quantity of stored surface water in California is insufficient for the demands of the population of 38 million individuals.
Harvesting rainwater reduces the effect of runoffs that choke storm drains. Runoffs cause soil erosion that carries away the fertile California soil. The quality of groundwater decreases because flows dissolve agricultural pollutants. California has unregulated ground water. Underground water in California is considered private property, while surface water is regarded as public property. Decentralization of governing the two sources of water results in depletion of underground water. For instance, when underground water is used faster than absorbed, its presence becomes inadequate. The surface water refills faster as compared to underground water. Between 1998 and 2005, ground water served 35 percent of the state and managed wetlands areas (Abdulla and Al-Shareef, 2009, p.205). The use of underground water increased to 40% and then to 60% during dry season leading to its depletion.
Meeting the 21st Century Ecological Conditions
Our project will focus on meeting the 21st century ecological needs. Roof water harvesting reduces soil pollution because runoffs carry pesticides, herbicides, and germicides that cause soil contamination. California is a major agricultural state in the USA. Farmers use pesticides, artificial fertilizers, and bactericides that get washed away by unharnessed rain water. According to Lee , Moon, Kim, Kim and Han (2013), unharnessed rain water carries the fertile top soil away, thereby preventing soil erosion (p.257). Roof water harvesting technique does not involve the use of petroleum that results in the depletion of the ozone layer. The technology presented in this project is environmentally friendly and does not produce greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
The project mainly uses natural sources of energy, such as gravity, when collecting water. The storage tanks get located lower than the roof level to enhance the difference in pressure to allow for water collection. Moreover, the storage tanks get located close to the collection roof to minimize the use of petroleum locomotives in transporting water. Water transportation is done through underground pipes with gravity powering the entire process. The use of fog catchers helps to increase the visibility of the atmosphere through the conversion of fog to clear water that can easily be harnessed and used for different economic purposes. Fog dissolves deliquescent pesticides and causes air pollution. Harnessing fog reduces air pollution, which can cause breathing difficulties and lung diseases. Our project prevents soil erosion through the use of filters, hand pumps, and distilling pits. The tube wells used in harvesting water get pumped intermittently to improve the efficiency of storage.
The Gaps in Infrastructure and Programs
California lacks fog catchers’ technology that is used to increase the amount of water captured from the atmosphere. The technology is employed in Canada, Chile Atacama Desert, and The Andes to provide water in dry areas. Businesses and individuals in California do not recognize that rainwater harvesting is a viable option. There exist no targeted campaign in California that educate people on the importance of harvesting rainwater (Lee et al., 2013, p.260). Despite the unstable water supply in California, the state diverts interstate feuds to the diversions from Colorado and other rivers instead of looking at harvested rainwater as a viable option.
Various people of California do not know whether harvesting rainwater is legal. Water policy in California has uncomfortable public or private guidelines. For instance, the state of California do not currently assert water policy over rain roof water harvesting. People fear to lose their pre-existing rights to harvest roof water without undergoing a bureaucratic process. Storage of roof water is bulky and requires expensive tanks.
Installing fog catchers on roofs increases the quantity of water that can be stored in California. Providing sustainable solutions to California unstable water supply involves harvesting rain water. Gog catchers on roofs, fields, and agricultural farms act as shells for water (Abdulla and Al-Shareef, 2009, p.201). A fog catcher consists of a large net that works according to the same principles as the Namib Desert beetle shells. The technology is used in Andes and Chile Atacama to provide water for a town and desert respectively.
The effectiveness of roofwater harvesting depends on the technical elements used while building the harvesting system. Geoengineering rain refers to a technique of dispersing silver iodine crystals in the atmosphere to mimic ice and allow for clinging of water, boosting precipitation levels of water to improve roof water harvesting. After creation of rain, massive direct roof water harvesting tanks should get constructed and the excess diverted to recharge the system. Teaching people how to install and manage roof water harvesting systems and roof water treatment procedures would reduce the cost of implementing roof water harvesting facilities, thereby encouraging individuals to use the method. According to the City of Bellingham’s Water Conservation Program (2015), implementing durable roofing materials that enhance harvesting of roof water increases the quantity of water harvested (p.36). For instance, using metal and cedar shakes roofing materials ensures long-term durability in roof water harvesting.
The state should provide free legal advice to individuals willing to harvest rainwater and publicize the importance of registering riparian rights. California State should develop a statewide program to advise people and provide incentives and tax breaks that encourage roof water harvesting. Government intervention, education of citizens, and providing an environment for friendly roof water harvesting play a significant role in ensuring sustainability of water in California. Implementing our project will provide sustainable development of California since the economy of California depends on agriculture.