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  • Jane @Earth&Sky

Rainwater and Groundwater as Water Supply Sources

Updated: Oct 16, 2019


We humans love beautiful places. We seek them out for vacations, retirement locations, retreats, getaways, and for a few lucky ones - we have these places as our forever homes. After finding the perfect location for your home or business you need a freshwater supply before you can get settled. If you're in a remote location, where most goregous places are, you need to find and supply your own source of water.


Traditionally, people have used groundwater for rural water supply, as not everyone has a stream running through their property. Also, groundwater is typically safer than surface water since it has some natural filtration. To access groundwater, people hire a well driller, drill a well, and pump water out of the ground. If they're lucky, they drill into a high-producing aquifer and get lots of water with great quality. If they're not so lucky, they've installed a well only to find out the well doesn't produce enough water to meet their needs, the water has a funny taste or stains the fixtures, or the water is too salty to use. The treatment options to improve groundwater water quality can be prohibitively expensive, or can waste water, depleting an already limited water supply.


At Earth and Sky, we do more upfront planning than drilling companies, and more testing of your well for water quantity and quality. Before we start drilling, our hydrogeologists explore the potential for you to have a good groundwater supply and have a frank conversation with you about expectations and your options. If you decide to go ahead with a well, we work closely with local water well drillers to install and test your new well for water quantity and quality. We interpret the test results give you professional advice about the available water supply and whether treatment is needed for your water before use. For commercial water supplies, we can complete the water licence application on your behalf and provide the technical information required in the application process.


Another option for rural water supply is captured rainwater. In coastal BC, we get very high rainfall rates in fall and winter. Some of that rainfall recharges groundwater aquifers, but much of it is lost as stormwater runoff and ultimately ends up in the ocean. With careful design that includes selection of appropriate materials, water filtration, calculated project-specific water storage volume, and final water treatment, captured rainwater is a sustainable, safe supply of water suitable for many uses including for drinking water.


Rainwater systems can be preferable to water wells, if certainty and security of a water supply is important. The water supply for rainwater systems is designed to meet the needs and budget of the user, virtually removing the uncertainty of whether there will be enough water available. Water supply from captured rainwater is based on climate averages (with consideration to climate change) and storage is sized to meet the water needs of the client. Unlike groundwater where many community wells are completed in the same aquifer, a harvested rainwater supply is not shared with your neighbours and can be more easily managed.


Costs for rainwater harvesting systems depend on the total water need, as a significant proportion of cost comes from water storage aspects. Complex systems also require more time from our engineers, and result in a higher cost for design services. For a tighter budget, a smaller rainwater harvesting system can be designed to supply water for a specific need, and be coupled with an existing (or new) groundwater well.

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