Chemical Spill in West Virginia shows the vulnerability of our water supplies
January 21, 2014
American Rainwater Catchment Association
Value of Rainwater Catchment Systems
RAINWATER HARVESTING CAN CREATE SAFE, DECENTRALIZED WATER SUPPLIES
The disastrous chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia’s water supply reinforced the value of harvesting rainwater to provide distributed sources of safe water. The mission of the 501(c)3 nonprofit American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA.org) is to promote sustainable rainwater harvesting practices to help solve potable, non-potable, stormwater and energy challenges throughout the world.
A well-designed, installed and maintained rainwater harvesting system can provide significant amounts of high-quality water for potable and non-potable, residential and commercial use. Given an average 45 inches of annual West Virginia precipitation, a 1,500-square-foot residential roof could collect over 40,000 gallons annually, delivering more than 100 gallons per day of high-quality water for potable and/or non-potable uses. Attesting to the quality, ARCSA board member Jack Holmgreen won a Gold Medal for his rainwater entry in the 2011 Berkeley Springs (West Virginia) International Water Tasting competition.
The chemical in the West Virginia water spill-4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM)-is among a long list of chemicals that include perchlorate (rocket fuel), MTBE (an automobile fuel additive), ethylene glycol (anti-freeze), MEK (solvent) and formaldehyde, for which there are no EPA drinking-water limits. That’s right, as unbelievable as it sounds, any amount can be in your drinking water without exceeding the EPA Drinking Water standards.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) has identified over 200 contaminants in the nation’s drinking water for which there are no limits, which is one reason the ancient practice of collecting, treating and using rainwater is being revived with modern techniques and materials.
ARCSA is gathering funds, experts and technical writers to create a national rainwater harvesting manual and is soliciting tax-deductible donations. For more information, please contact Heather Kinkade, Executive Director ARCSA, at 512-617-6528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARCSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded to promote rainwater catchment systems in the United States. Its membership consists of professionals working in city, state, and federal governments, academia, manufacturers and suppliers of rainwater harvesting equipment, consultants, and other interested individuals. For more information, visit ARCSA.org.