American Society of Civil Engineers


Do Rainwater Harvesting Objectives of Water Supply and Stormwater Management Conflict?


by Mark A. Jensen, (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah 122 S. Central Campus Drive, Suite 104, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112; 801-585-5721), Jennifer Steffen, (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah 122 S. Central Campus Drive, Suite 104, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112; 801-585-5721), Steven J. Burian, (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah 122 S. Central Campus Drive, Suite 104, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112; 801-585-5721 E-mail: burian@eng.utah.edu), and Christine Pomeroy, (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah 122 S. Central Campus Drive, Suite 104, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112; 801-585-5721)
Section: A National Assessment of Rainwater Harvesting: Challenges, Needs, and Recommendations, pp. 11-20, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/41099(367)2)

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Low Impact Development 2010: Redefining Water in the City
Abstract: Harvesting rainfall has been practiced since ancient times around the world, and remains common in many countries today. The concept is recently gaining new interest in urban areas in the United States (U.S.) because of its potential to meet multiple sustainability objectives including reduced water demand and managing stormwater runoff. However, the new applications are challenged by a range of different urban characteristics, competing sustainability objectives, and an uncertainty of the relative impact of municipal-scale implementation in terms of water supply and stormwater management. This paper presents preliminary results from a study of the relative benefits of rainwater harvesting in urban areas for water supply and stormwater management. An analysis was conducted for more than 20 cities in the U.S. using long-term rainfall records, historical water use data, and a rainwater harvesting analysis tool. Performance of the rainwater harvesting systems for a set of hypothetical applications in each city was quantified in terms of water demand supplied by harvested rainfall and stormwater runoff captured. For this paper, four cities are selected to highlight the general conclusions of the study. In general, the study illustrates the importance of the precipitation and water demand patterns in concert rather than climate alone in determining potential benefits. This study showed water supply and stormwater management are not competing objectives, but different cistern sizes are needed to realize the optimal benefits for each. In general, the cistern size must be greater for the optimal level of stormwater management benefits to be achieved.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Rainfall
Water supply
Stormwater management