The roof area available on most commercial buildings makes them prime candidates for rainwater harvesting. In a bid to create an overall more sustainable property many new developments are now incorporating this into the initial design as standard. If you have a commercial property and it doesn’t currently have rainwater harvesting technology there will be solution available that is suitable for your needs.
There are various rainwater harvesting systems on the market today. These range from direct to gravity fed and move onto boosted and combi systems. The direct system is the most basic out of all of these, providing a simple design that captures and recycles the rainwater. The water is harvested from the roof of the property and directed into an underground tank or above ground tank ready for future use.
Boosted and combi systems will contain one or more pumps that take the water where you need it to be. Generally this is used to take the water from the main storage tank either above or below ground outside of the building to the break tank housed inside the building.
All of the above system will as a minimum contain a primary filter. This will prevent any debris getting into the tank and breaking down in the water. A filter can also increase oxygen resulting in clearer water. A secondary filter is usually include on the pump inlet combined with floating intake ensures only clean water is abstracted from the middle of the water column. Finally if higher levels of filtration are required then a cartridge filter can be added on the deliver side of the pump. To ensure there is always water available regardless of rainfall a mains back up unit is required which fills the tank with mains water if the level is too low.
More and more companies are looking to clean up their green credentials; rainwater harvesting is a great way to do this. Not only is it going to save the company money, it’s also going to dramatically reduce the amount of water used for day to day purposes. The amount of water that is captured by a large roof and diverted down a drain, when it could be captured and recycled is potentially huge.
Perfectly good water is being taken away from the property and processed water from elsewhere is being utilised instead. It doesn’t make sense from an environmental perspective, and it certainly doesn’t make good financial sense.
So what can all this captured rainwater be used for? As it is has not been processed it is not safe to drink directly; that however doesn’t mean that it is useless. The vast majority of water in a commercial property is used elsewhere; non-potable water could be a direct replacement for this.
Whether the water is used for flushing toilets, washing laundry, grounds maintenance, irrigation, washing vehicles, cooling equipment it all adds up to a huge amount of water.
Obviously the more people that you employ the more water you are going to use. This is where the greatest savings can be made. The cost of installing a commercial rainwater harvesting system is likely to be paid back within the first three to five years. In addition there are tax incentives to invest in water saving technology even more of reason to invest.
It’s fast approaching that time of year again where many gardeners are getting itchy fingers. Glimpses of the warm weather to come have made brief, but very definite appearances. Many of us even ventured out into the garden to try and make start on plans for this year.
We were all then very quickly brought back down to earth by storm Doris, raging through the UK, causing destruction wherever it went. Any early progress was halted and much of any work already done was rendered worthless. However despite this initial setback, things are beginning to pick up again.
Getting a Head Start
We are now into meteorological spring, a turning point for many that means we can actually get out into the garden again. As the snowdrops come and go, daffodils start to make an appearance and maybe even the odd crocus begins to flower, we know that we are nearly there. Seeds that have been bought and stored throughout the winter can be organised, and plans for the garden can be made.
Many of us will already have a good idea of what we want to get on with, having sat inside for the past few months plotting this year’s display or harvest. Whilst warm days in the garden may still be a few weeks away, there are plenty of things that you can be getting on with now.
Getting ahead on certain things now will save you time in height of summer when you’ll be too busy harvesting your produce, and tending to your garden, to do anything else. Now can be a good time to get on with some of the bigger garden tasks; things that will make your life easier throughout this growing season and maybe some larger jobs that you have been putting off.
Access to water is a necessity for any gardener; if you want your plants to grow well over the summer, regular watering is the key. If you have been using a hosepipe or watering can filled from a tap, somewhere along the line you’ll be paying for it, whether you’re on a water meter or not. Plus using water that has been processed and filtered, prior to making its way to your property, is massively unsustainable and a real drain on unnecessary resources.
A really good alternative to this, which can be installed on almost any property, is a water butt. With such a wide range available these days, all affordable and simple to fit, these are by far the most economical and sustainable choice for many home gardeners. Even if your downpipe or drainpipe is in an inconvenient location there are plenty of products, such as rainwater pumps, available to get things how you want them.
By installing a rainwater harvesting system you can put your water supply right where you need it. You can benefit from free water for as long as you need it and all for a small initial outlay.
Our latest infographic has revealed the wettest cities in the UK.
Using data available from the Met Office we were able to rank cities based on total annual rainfall and those living in Cardiff may be surprised to learn that the welsh capital has taken the top spot. This is thanks to experiencing 1152 mm of rainfall annually.
Other cities that made the top 5 include: St Davids, Glasgow, Bangor and Truro.
The infographic also shows which cities you are less likely to need an umbrella in. London has been named the driest city and is closely followed by Cambridge, Derry and Ely.
To make the infographic that bit more interesting, we’ve also created a table that looks at the total number of rainy days experienced by each city annually.
So take a look at your city below and see how it compares? Are your surprised by the results?
Revealed: The Wettest Cities in the UK - An infographic by the team at Freeflush
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In today’s world, we take essentials such as water for granted and most of us are guilty of not thinking twice about just how much water we are wasting. But here’s a fact that should make us stop and think: by 2030 The World Economic Forum predicts that the gap between freshwater demand and supply will have increased by 40% if we don’t drastically change the way in which we use water.
But how can we, as individuals, do anything about it? The solutions are surprisingly straightforward. By making simple changes to our daily routine, we can contribute to making the world a greener place - and where better to start than in our home? How often we leave the tap running whilst we brush your teeth? This habit alone equates to 10,950 litres wasted each year! To put this into perspective, if the entire adult population of England and Wales remembered to turn off their taps, a whopping 180 mega litres could be saved- enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes!
So doing our bit to leave a greener planet for our children is probably easier than we think. Have a look at this easy to digest infographic which gives the perfect breakdown of how to start saving water (not to mention money!). Together, our small changes can have a big impact.
Taking into account natural variability as well as human interference the Met Office decadal forecast is produced to predict changes in the climate over the next few years. It is created by analysing climate models in relation to observations of the current climate state. Issued in January 2017 this decadal forecast gives predictions over the next five-year period from 2017 to 2021.
The forecast issued in 2011 suggested that enhanced warming would take place over higher Northern latitudes and that cooling would take place in parts of the Southern Ocean and South-Eastern tropical Pacific. This was generally accurate; however, broadly speaking the forecast was generally too warm in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean and was too cool in the equatorial Pacific.
2017- 2021 Forecast
Patterns now suggest that temperatures will continue to remain high over land and at higher Northern altitudes in particular. Almost all areas will see a continuation of the high temperatures with the possible exception of some areas of Southern Ocean and the North Pacific.
2016 was the warmest individual year according to the Met Office Hadley Centre global temperature record. This was largely due to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but can also be attributed to other changes in the climate system, including the largest El Niño since 1997. 2017 is not forecast to break this record as El Niño declines but the temperature will continue to remain at a similar level to late 20th century readings.
El Niño is a climate cycle originating in the Pacific Ocean; this has an impact on weather patterns across the globe. The climate cycle starts with warm water in the Western tropical Pacific Ocean which then moves eastward towards the coast of South America. Normally, this warm water would stay near the Philippines and Indonesia.
Global temperature increase is measured against the long-term 1981-2010 mean. 2016 was 0.46°C above this and the highest on record. During 2017 - 2021 global average temperature is expected to remain between 0.42°C and 0.89°C above the long term 1981 – 2010 mean, with an average over these five years estimated somewhere between at 0.51°C and 0.78°C
Copyright Met Office 2017.
Climate change can and is having a significant impact on our fresh water supplies. With warming temperatures comes the increased risk of drought and flooding. Although more rainfall has the potential to increase our fresh water resources, often the effects of flooding lead to more rapid movement of water, contaminating our current systems and increasing the rate at which the water is distributed from the atmosphere and in to the oceans.
With temperatures set to remain at significantly high levels for the foreseeable future, water conservation is a key area of concern not only worldwide but in the UK too. Although there has been an unprecedented level of flooding in the UK in recent years there, has also been a record number of hosepipe bans; this demonstrates that despite the rapid distribution of fresh water, levels overall remain consistently low.
"Often a key driver behind rainwater harvesting is environmental benefit and a desire to reduce mains water usage. Many people considering rainwater harvesting understand the environmental and financial cost in the production of potable water and also realise the wastefulness of flushing typically 30% of mains water down the toilet.
BS 8515:2009 is a good start to understand the principles of rainwater harvesting; design, installation, water quality and maintenance. Technical and economic feasibility is essential to understand whether a system is viable. The design component should involve an assessment of supply and demand and ideally consideration of local time series rainfall to optimise the storage requirements. Many domestic systems have moved towards a shallow tank system allowing swift installation and reduced contractor risk. Consideration of all the filtrations steps is essential to maintain good water quality which in turn should reduce the incidence of any unplanned maintenance. However any system with mechanical components will require maintenance and this should be borne in mind from the outset.
Aside from the obvious cost-benefit of any system there are side benefits which are as yet still evolving and unmeasured. Rainwater harvesting systems effectively provide onsite storage and so act as storm relief something which water companies have been battling with for many years to reduce combined sewer overflows. Conventionally this has been addressed with large concrete tanks at significant cost, perhaps smaller scale rainwater harvesting is a tangible alternative with greater benefits.
Finally, it's worth noting that 15% of river catchments in England and Wales are classed as "over abstracted" and 18% as "over licensed. Rainwater harvesting offers an alternative to truly managing our natural resources in a more sustainable manner"
Matching the Code for Sustainable Homes means taking account of rainwater harvesting and water consumption – factors which can substantially increase a home’s sustainability rating. Despite this, simple measures that can be taken to match the requirements are often overlooked.
The Code for Sustainable Homes was set up in April 2007. It has since been incorporated into building regulations, and retitled as “the new national technical standards”. It was a voluntary national standard designed to improve the overall sustainability of new homes allowing them to be constructed to the highest possible environmental standards. Installing features designed to meet this code will reduce potential running costs for the householder, as well as making the house much more sustainable thus helping to combat environmental problems.
Under the terms of the code, houses are given a sustainability rating from one star to six stars, with six being the highest possible level. The more stars that a home possesses, the lower the level of mains water consumption involved. A house meeting Code levels 1 and 2 involves a consumption level of around 150 litres per person per day. A six star house on the other hand seeks to reduce mains water consumption to 80 litres per day. By the end of this year, all housing and private build housing are expected to be achieving six star status.
The installation of rainwater storage can make a significant contribution towards meeting the required standards. Under the terms of the code, houses must have suitable rainwater collectors such as rainwater butts. These collectors must possess no open access at the top of the collector, although a child proof lid is allowed. Each collector must also have a tap in order to draw off the water. Rainwater butts can be mounted on walls or on the ground attached to drainpipes. Designs can vary. The 100l wall mounted butt is almost rectangular and actually covers part of the drainpipe whereas the 200l slim wall hung water butt is square in design. Although most of the butts are green, there are some alternatives available for those who want something different. The 100l wall mounted butt can be obtained in both black and sandstone. There are even butts like the Evergreen Water Butt with a massive 475 litre capacity that look like a tree trunk or even the Helena Butt which resembles a massive Roman urn. Particularly striking is the Natura 2 in 1 water tank beach with top planter and the Maurano Stone Effect Water Butt possessing a massive 300 litre capacity.
Under the Code, the butts have to be connected to the downpipe and have an automatic overflow into the drainage system. Each butt must be able to removed from the down pipe and sufficiently accessible that it can be cleaned. Additional water storage capacity can be created underground and pumped into top water butts when required by the homeowner.
Minimum storage volume requirements are set down by the code. These are based on whether the home has a garden or patio/terrace. Homes possessing a patio or terrace have a minimum rainwater storage requirement of 100 litres. This figure rises to 150 litres for a 1 to 2 bedroom home with private garden, while a home with 3 or more bedrooms possessing a private garden should have water storage facilities totaling at least 200 litres.
Rainwater harvesting equipment is clearly essential to the creation of any sustainable home. Taking a close look at what is available and choosing wisely makes sense. It can make a tremendous difference to the sustainability of the house, making it more attractive to the cost conscious and environmentally conscious home buyer.
In the UK, we try our best to be happy bedfellows with rainfall. The general British attitude is to simply accept the fact that it rains a lot, and, let's be honest, there's absolutely nothing we can do about it. How do we react? We embrace the drops. We live in harmony with the heavens. We are at peace with precipitation! In fact, rain plays quite an important part in our culture and spirit as a nation – often reflected in music. So to celebrate our wet country, here's our 10 favourite rainy hits, for you to enjoy:
1. Umbrella (2007) – Rihanna & Jay-Z
With all her fancy umbrella dancing, it's easy to miss some brilliant rainy phrases in this record, such as “in anticipation for precipitation” and “Rain Man is back with Little Mis Sunshine”. Whether you're pro-umbrella or prefer to brave the elements, you have to appreciate Rihanna's skill to make a catchy song about this weather tool. Who knew rain could be made sexy, eh?
2. Set Fire To The Rain (2011) – Adele
Although we wouldn't advise setting fire to the rain, Adele offers us some great imagery in this power ballad. Rain is often likened to crying, or tears in musical lyrics, but we really don't understand the negative link. When we think rain we envisage lush, green fields, gushing waterfalls and cosy pub meals by the fireside (perhaps a little Port too).
3. Purple Rain (1984) – Prince
The mere thought of mysterious purple rain gives us the shivers a little... but then Prince's amazing guitar solo gives us warm fuzzies again. This ballad has been covered and covered and covered again and again, but we firmly believe this royal version is the best. Did you know he made a film of the same title? That's going on the list.
4. Why Does It Always Rain On Me (1999) – Travis
One aspect of our culture that isn't so appealing is the tendency to moan – and this pick is a shining example. Travis are a Scottish band, who we assumed were inspired by the wet weather up north, but this song was actually written holidaying in the middle east. An apparent attempt to escape rainy Glasgow!
5. It's Raining Men (1982) – The Weather Girls
Oh dear, it's here. Three exuberant women singing and dancing as their dream selection of men fall from the sky. There's both a severe cringe-factor and an hilarious element to this video. What's that you say? Geri Halliwell did it better? We don't know what you're talking about. One thing we did learn from this song is that 'Mother Nature is a single woman', apparently.
6. Sunshine After The Rain (1977) – Elkie Brooks
Often remade into modern day club remixes, the unadulterated, original version of this track is still the best. One of the more memorable lines is “bluebirds flying over the mountains again” and the “silver lining shining over the rainbow's end”. Just lovely. Although one thing we can't reconcile – why would Elkie want to get rid of the rain?!
7. Have You Ever Seen the Rain? (1971) - Creedance Clearwater Revival
Perhaps a question best directed at someone in central Australia, this is nonetheless an absolute legendary song. The band also recorded 'Who'll Stop the Rain?' in 1978. Although some have suggested the “rain” refers to bombs dropping during the Vietnam War, we think Creedance clearly have links to rain in their roots, and we wholeheartedly support this band's mission to revive clearwater in communities across the world, one tune at a time!
8. Rain (1966) – The Beatles
Granted, this is not one of their best known hits, but coming from the Paperback Writer single, as a B-side, it's pretty impressive. Although slightly repetitive in lyrics, and barely a drop of the subject in question to be seen in the video, this is a classic tribute to the great British wet weather that this band grew up in.
9. Cloudbusting (1985) – Kate Bush
Kate was clearly ahead fo her time with her music but was she also signalling a new era of rainwater harvesting?! Quite a story of inventions and contraptions reminiscent of freeflush the early days! There's an underlying positive feeling in this song; a sense of looking hopefully to the future and perhaps the inspiration of "running up that hill". The song follows the journey of "inventor" William Reich and his son as they try to use their elaborate device to instigate the rain! Essentially making Kate one of the early pioneers of "active rainwater havesting"!!. Perhaps the most famous line from this song is "Ooh, I just know that something good is going to happen" (lifted later by Utah Saints) clearly a sign of things to come ....
10. Singing in the Rain (1952) – Gene Kelly
You knew we couldn't complete this rainy playlist without it! Probably one of the most upbeat, energetic characters imaginable for someone drenched in a stormy city scene. Children love playing in the rain – whatever happened to that? As adults we seem to have forgotten how to leave the umbrella behind and have fun. We challenge you to try it.
The next time a lovely thunderstorm rolls into town, give your foot a little tappity-tap in the puddles. Go on, take the lead from good, old Gene.
Rain, rain, rain – these last few weeks have seen a tremendous amount of rain falling across the UK. There has even been snow and sleet. Whatever happened to spring? Many people will undoubtedly have been wondering whether rainwater harvesting is necessary. The answer is, undoubtedly, yes.
The weather within the UK is much more unsettled than it ever before. Precipitation levels are higher than usual along with high seas and storm warnings. Winter storms such as Storm Katie, Storm Jake and Storm Imogen have led to major flooding particularly within Northern England. Storm Desmond sent 1,700 cubic meters of rain into the Solway Firth every second during the height of the storm, resulting in record flow rates in many rivers.
This pattern has changed little throughout the spring. April was the coldest on record, at times being colder than Siberia and Greenland as temperatures reached -3.4ºC in Powys, Wales. Periods of heavy rain have occurred in most areas. There have also been major thunderstorms setting trees on fire and destroying telephone and internet connections.
Experts from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have analysed the record breaking temperatures and rainfall levels, revealing that the changes brought out by global warming have been made worse by the natural variability in UK weather patterns. As an island nation, the presence of the sea encourages the development of rain and cloud. Professor Myles Allen, climate scientist at Oxford University points to predictions of heavier winter rainfall go back 25 years. The warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which comes down to earth as rain. The rise in temperature roughly translates to 4 to 5 inches of rainfall.
With ground level water so high, thinking about rainwater harvesting is often low on the priority list for many people. It is all too easy to be complacent. Yet this is a short sighted attitude to take.
Every year, there are always significant periods of dryness. The further east you go, the drier the atmosphere, and the lower the rainfall. Summers are generally becoming drier. Despite heavy winter rains, droughts are always possible. As soon as the soil begins to dry out in the summer sun, plants will need watering. Newly planted flowers need a lot of help to survive the first year in the garden, and vegetables will not thrive without water. Home grown vegetables and soft fruit are beneficial in terms of freshness, vitamins as well as being a cost effective element within the household budget.
Being prepared for these dry periods is essential. Capturing as much rainwater as possible is absolutely essential. It is, after all, a free resource which will benefit gardens and allotments throughout dry spells. Rainwater harvesting can also be used in many ways around the home such as flushing toilets, washing clothes, cars and keeping kitchens clean.
Even in late spring and throughout the summer, it is possible to increase the amount of rain being captured. Summer showers can sometimes be quite heavy. Ensure that there is a wall water butt beside every down pipe around the house, garage, greenhouse or shed. The Colossus Water Butt has a massive 1000 litre capacity yet takes up minimal space. Likewise the Classic range has a 650l capacity and the dimensions of a small wardrobe. For something very stylish the classic slim wood effect water butt blends in perfectly with areas of decking and the architecture of period homes as it looks very natural. If an existing water butt is full – add an extra butt and link with a Water Butt Connector comprising a special pipe link. Our ‘plug and play’ solutions ensure that extra butts can be ready for use within minutes.
Drought is an increasing problem worldwide. Countries such as Australia and the US have experienced mega droughts during which no rain fell for years in places like California. The sight of dried up rivers and low reservoir levels became a reality. Such scenes are not uncommon. Even in the UK, there have been severe droughts when concern has been expressed about the risk of not having enough water to supply everyone’s needs.
Within the past fifty years, there have some notable droughts. 1976 was one of the worst droughts since records began. A dry winter was followed by a hot and dry summer, with temperatures in excess of 90ºF. Some areas such as Devon and Cornwall had no rain for 45 days. Even Wales experienced no rain throughout August.
A further severe drought occurred in 2003 when temperatures of 100ºF were recorded. There were even unofficial reports of temperatures as high as 104ºF. The situation was made worse by the fact that the high temperatures caused greater evaporation of surface moisture on plants as well as in reservoirs, rivers and streams. The appearance of the remnants of long lost villages in reservoirs attracted media attention, along with the cracked and dried up ground.
Droughts cause major problems for householders, businesses as well as the environment and wildlife. It affects the quality of the soil, which can also be eroded by the wind. Wildfires break out and wetlands can be lost. The cost of trying to keep crops watered rises, thus impacting on food costs.
Climate change combined with the ever-increasing number of households and demand for water by homes and businesses puts the available water supply under constant pressure. Hosepipe bans have become a normal occurrence. In recent years water restrictions have been applied in 2006, 2007 and in 2010. While in 2012, approximately 1/3 of the country was affected by drought conditions. Southern England, East Anglia and much of the Midlands are frequently affected by droughts and water restrictions.
Despite the amount of rain experienced throughout the UK over the past few months, there is an ever-present risk of drought every summer. Rainfall levels are never consistent across the entire country. Essex is renowned for being one of the driest areas of the UK, experiencing just 507 mm of rain on average each year – compared to average levels of 3,000 mm in Snowdonia. Just fifteen consecutive days during the summer with less than 0.2mm of rain occurring can create regional drought conditions.
Much of the rain in recent months has been occurring in areas which notoriously experience heavy rain such as the Lake District and northern England. Atlantic storms have resulted in torrential rain being experienced. Yet much of this rain eventually dissipates into the ground or in the oceans that surround the UK. High summer temperatures and low rainfall can quickly use up large quantities of the rain in underground aquifers.
Greater quantities of the rainfall can be saved for personal use by installing rainwater harvesting systems. This will provide valuable water resources during the hot summer months when drought restrictions are likely. Water butts need fitting under every down pipe, including greenhouses and sheds. No matter how limited your space, there are suitable water butts available including slim line versions that can be mounted on walls. Diverter kits can be added to combine more than one water butt in an area, thus ensuring that minimum rainwater is lost throughout the winter. You can even install water butts that combine water storage with a planter to give a decorative touch.