It's clear that in order to combat the looming water crisis ahead we need a 3-pronged strategy — conservation, catchment and reclamation. This is the strategy being adopted in Australia where residents have been ravaged by a severe water shortage, presaging events to come here in the U.S. The gloomy news issued today — that California will soon be facing the worst drought in history — is all the more reason to get excited about the Rainwater Hog.
This ingenious building product was designed by a water-conserving Australian architect who saw an opportunity to rethink rainwater storage. In the past, rainwater catchment has been only for those stalwart off-the-grid hippies who don't mind giant water tanks imposing upon their back yards. But Sally Dominguez thought, why not redesign the shape and integrate them with the building? She came up with the Rainwater Hog.
The flat rectangles ("hogs") are designed to nestle comfortably in between outdoor deck framing (typically 10" joists on 2 foot centers) are 20" x 71" and only 9 1/2 inches deep. Unlike regular rainwater tanks, they are easy to carry and are modular, so it is easy to size a system based on your available roof area and annual rainfall.
They are made from food grade plastic, so the "rescued water" as Sally calls it, can be used to irrigate your garden. The plastic is also fully recyclable and, as it turns out, the hogs perform very well as thermal mass units — storing the sun's warmth on the exterior of the building, so that it can radiate into the home at night.
Each unit holds 50 gallons, so even if you have 10 units (a typical installation), you won't be able to cover that suburban lawn — a typical lawn uses 10,000 gallons per year! But for those who plan their gardens carefully and use drip irrigation, it would be possible to irrigate your yard solely with captured rainwater. To learn more about water catchment I found one of the best guides to be the city of Albuquerque's.
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