Practical guide for Planet Friendly, 21st Century beings

September 11, 2009, 4:33 pm
Filed under: Articles of Interest, Energy, gardening, Green, hobby farming, New age

OK everyone, now that we have an overview of how to procure water free from industrial usage, municipal tax and utility company charges we now need to determine whether we can actually drink the stuff? What’s in it? Is it safe? Can it replace groundwater?

Rainwater, since it falls through the atmosphere, will inherently contain whatever particles and pollutants it happens to pick up on its way down to earth. It is naturally soft water and devoid of minerals since it has not yet interacted with the rocks or soil. It also has a low ph level and is slightly acidic due to a reaction with carbon dioxide in the air. It is usually safe but requires various stages of filtering before being considered drinking water. Always check with your local drinking water filtering/purification standards before drinking local rainwater.

Normal drinking water or ground water, as we know it, is created when rainwater falls to earth, picking up minerals along the way through its interaction with the rocks and soil, becoming ground water or ‘drinking water’ as it leeches through the soil and rocks into the underground aquifers, lakes and streams. Nature’s supply chain can get corrupted though, when human beings pollute the ground so thoroughly that our potential source of drinking water is forced to leech through polluted rocks and soil. By the time it ends up in the underground aquifers and lakes it needs to be tested and treated for a myriad of chemicals deemed harmful to human beings. One day its potable water from the sky then the next day it’s become contaminated (poisoned) by local industry, landfills or farm chemical runoff.

Our normal groundwater/drinking water also contains minerals that we human beings, over the millennia, have come to rely upon for our daily health and well being, which rainwater happens to be devoid of. But these minerals, which are absent in rainwater can, according to experts, be acquired by adding certain foods to our diet and in most cases it is actually easier and more efficient to absorb them through food rather than through our drinking water.

A quick primer in minerals; our bodies consist of approximately 4% minerals, classified as trace and major minerals. The trace minerals are; zinc, iron, copper, selenium, fluorine, iodine and chromium. The major minerals are; calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, chlorine and sulfur. These minerals are useful in forming bones and teeth, regulating cellular metabolism, maintaining normal heart rhythm, neural conductivity and muscle contractility among other things.

So, now that we know what our bodies require and what we must avoid in order to live a healthy life we now need to figure out a way to get our drinking water free and clear of any government or industry involvement and clean. Our way out of this conundrum is to catch the water before anyone can use it and abuse it. Rainwater is the answer. You don’t need to be a tree hugger to understand the benefits of government free, industry free, tax free water, although it helps?

Rainwater does require treatment though, in order to become drinking water and depending on your part of the country the rainwater may be completely un-drinkable due to heavy atmospheric pollution? Some research has been done on the issue of rainwater treatment and filtering for human consumption and the following is an excerpt of a very informative article on the subject that I found during my research for this article and is quite useful in our understanding of the technical requirements of filtering rainwater.

Excerpted from Short Note 4 Expatriate Bangladeshi 2000 Md. Khalequzzaman, Assistant Professor of Geology, Georgia Southwestern State University.

Full text available at

Studies of the chemical composition of rainfall have been carried on for many years starting in late 1880s in the United States and in Europe. Rainwater collected in various parts of the USA contains (in milligrams per liter): Fe (0.015) , Ca (0.075-1.41), Mg (0.027-1.2), Na (0.22-9.4), Ca (0.075-1.41), K (0.072-0.11), HCO3 (4-7), SO4 0.7-7.6), Cl (0.22-17), NO2 (0.02), NO3 (0.02-0.62), and Total Dissolved Solids 8.2-38), and pH of 4.9 to 6.4. Although most of these concentrations fall within the safe limit prescribed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, some exceed safe drinking water limit.

Rainwater in rural areas – away from atmospheric and industrial pollution – is fairly clean except for some dissolved gases it may pick up while traveling through the atmosphere. Some scientists consider rainwater as the “gold standard” of water. However, rainwater is not free of pollution. It contains most of the atmospheric gases in dissolved form in proportion to their abundance. In addition, rainwater contains sediments, dust, aerosols, particulates, and anthropogenic gases that result from industrial discharge, biomass and fossil fuel burning. Gases such as H2O, SO2, NH3, NO2, N2O, HCl, CO, and CO2 are produced in substantial amounts by burning of fuels, by metallurgical processes, and by other anthropogenic activities, and also by biochemical processes in soil and water. Carbonates, nitrates, and sulfates in the atmosphere can react with water vapor and form carbonic, nitric, and sulfuric acids, respectively. These acids washed down with rain and form acid rain, which is detrimental to ecosystem and water quality. Since rainwater is not pure water, some precautions will have to be taken before the water is consumed. Sediments will have to be removed, and water further purified by using a reverse osmosis distillation system. This is a membrane permeation process that separates pure water from a less pure solution containing dissolved chemicals. Rainwater purifying techniques also involves passing through a pipe surrounded by an ultraviolet light, which kills most pathogens. Based on the Texas Water Development Board’s “Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting”, a scientist named Krishna developed a rainwater harvesting system in 1998 and received approval from the city of Portland, Oregon, to use his system for all household use. The rainwater harvesting system costs less than $1,500 and consists of the following components: a 1500 gallon plastic cistern, a 1/2 horsepower shallow-well pump, plastic (outdoor PVC and indoor CPVC) piping, two particulate filters in series, rated at 20 and 5 micron particle sizes, an ultraviolet light sterilizer, screen covering the cistern, a 20 gallon water butyl rubber diaphragm pressure storage tank, and a reduced pressure backflow prevention device. The cost to install a similar system in Bangladesh will be much less, because indigenous equipment will be cheaper than buying from the United States.

Rainwater harvesting is in use in many parts of the world. There is a long established tradition of rainwater collection in some parts of Alaska and Hawaii. City of Austin, Texas, offers rebate for using rainwater for some household uses. According to the “Sourcebook Harvested Rainwater”, in some areas of the Caribbean, new houses are required to have rainwater capture systems. Hawaii apparently is currently developing (or has already developed) guidelines. The island of Gibraltar has one of the largest rainwater collection systems in existence. Rainwater offers advantages in water quality for both irrigation and domestic use. Rainwater is naturally soft (unlike well water), contains almost no dissolved minerals or salts, is free of chemical treatment, and is a relatively reliable source of water for households. Rainwater collected and used on site can supplement or replace other sources of household water. Rainwater can be used as drinking water if proper treatment is done before using. McElveen, a physician from Texas, also developed methods to treat rainwater for drinking purposes. For drinking water treatment, McElveen relies on 5-micron and 1-micron cartridge filters and an ultraviolet (UV) treatment. He runs an Environmental Protection Agency test every 8 months for the same contaminants as municipal utilities test for: heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, pH, and hardness.

So there you have it, Rainwater can be used as a source of clean, free drinking water as long as it is not overly polluted by local air quality and is properly filtered according to strict guidelines for drinking water purity in your area. Unless you live very close to (or in) a major urban center or near heavy industrial activity the chances are pretty good that you already have a constant source of free, clean drinking water falling from the sky just waiting to be collected, filtered and used by you and your family for years to come. By using these rainwater collection and filtering techniques along with green housing designs like the Earthships we could all someday live in a world where natural resources are no longer squandered and polluted but instead are coveted as a free natural resource that anyone can afford and maintain by themselves anywhere on the planet?

It’s worth a shot so; let’s start collecting our FREE WATER before they figure out a way to charge us for it!

Reference ; explanation of different types of water


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