One of the biggest causes of storm water runoff is a lack of a method to contain the volume of water on-site during a rain event. Storage vessels can help solve that problem. These can range from simple rain barrels at each downspout to full underground cisterns and everything in between.
These are not novel concepts – before the advent of running water, most homes had cisterns to collect rainwater. In fact, adding onto turn-of-the-century buildings almost always includes removing a cistern right behind the house.
Rainwater was once considered essential to harvest, and it is gratifying to see a renewed interest in this type of self-sustainability. This water can also be used for irrigation outside, reducing the amount of tap water used to nourish plants. And since water and energy are so inextricably linked, this also saves resources and money.
It is important to note that water collected from asphalt shingled roofs should not be used for edible gardens. There are trace quantities of heavy metals in the asphalt shingles which could build up over time in the soil and be absorbed into your food. If you want to use the roof runoff for more than ornamental irrigation, a metal roof would be the better choice.
Your non-edible gardens will love the rainwater from even an asphalt roof however, and your local storm water system will thank you.
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