In regards to the recent rainfall in Central Florida we thought we would inform you of the risks and rewards of collecting rainwater. Collecting rainwater and using it can be a great way to help conserve resources. There are many uses for rainwater such as, watering plants, cleaning, bathing and drinking. But before you start collecting rainwater you might want to check with your local government because in some states rainwater is considered property of the state and it is illegal to collect it.
Other than the odd risk of getting arrested for collecting rainwater, here are some other risks you might encounter while doing so. According to the CDC, rainwater is not as pure as you would think it is. You cannot always assume that rainwater is safe to drink; it can contain many different types of contaminants such as bird poop, bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemicals that could make you sick. Consumption of rainwater has also been linked to disease outbreaks.
Depending on your geographical location, the risk of getting sick from rainwater may differ based on how frequently it rains, the season, and how you collect and store the rainwater. According to the CDC website, “Dust, smoke, and soot from the air can be dissolved in rainwater before it lands on your roof. Roofing materials, gutters, piping, and storage materials can introduce harmful chemicals like asbestos, lead, and copper to the water..” When rainwater is collected from the roof, dirt and germs can be washed into it especially when rain follows several days of dry weather.
Rain barrels are good for collecting rainwater but they do not provide any type of filtration or disinfection. Boiling rainwater will kill germs but will not remove chemicals. Even adding chlorine or iodine to the water does not protect against chemicals not to mention some parasites are chlorine tolerant.
Water collected that is intended for drinking, needs to be filtered, disinfected and tested regularly. Collected rainwater also needs to either be emptied or the barrel fitted with a screen to prevent mosquitos from using it as a breeding ground.
There are a lot of things that need to be taken into consideration when using collected rainwater. The best way to use collected rainwater it for irrigation. If you intend to use it for drinking, your best bet is to not do it at all. There are a lot of dangers associated with drinking collected rainwater. You want to make sure you take the proper precautions to make sure the water is safe for you to use. But in order to protect yourself your best bet is to drink filtered tap water and use the collected rainwater for irrigation. So be sure to do your research and even contact a professional before using collected rainwater.