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The Importance of Rainwater Harvesting in Central Texas

Mitigating Water Shortages, Managing Stormwater, and Conserving Natural Resources


Water is a precious resource, and this couldn't be more evident than in the Texas Hill Country right now. Central Texas is no stranger to droughts and water shortages, and as the population of the region continues to grow and water demands increase, it's becoming progressively more important to explore alternative sources for this precious natural resource. One such source is rainwater. In a region where water is becoming increasingly scarce, wells are drying up, and river’s are running low, every drop of water counts. That's one of the reasons why rainwater harvesting is growing in popularity as a way to conserve water, manage stormwater, and mitigate the effects of drought in central Texas.


Due to the benefits of rainwater harvesting, in our region of Central Texas there are many local incentives offered to those who utilize a rainwater harvesting system. To view a list of some of these local incentives click here.

What is Rainwater Harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting is an ancient concept that is simple to implement and is scalable within communities. Simply put, it is the practice of collecting and storing rainwater that falls on rooftops, surfaces, or other catchment areas for future use. This collected rainwater can be used for a variety of purposes; such as watering plants, washing cars, and irrigation, but it has the biggest impact as a potable rainwater collection system that provides all of a household's water needs. The water collected is stored in tanks and is then pumped to the intended use.


By collecting rainwater, homeowners and businesses can reduce their reliance on municipal water supplies and groundwater, this is particularly important in the Texas Hill Country region as we continue to experience water scarcity, droughts, and restrictions on water usage.

“Water is scarce in the Texas Hill Country. With our drought-and-flood climate and stressed water supply, alternatives to traditional water project development can help increase reliability, conserve resources and protect the environment. An effective, desirable and responsible alternative is rainwater harvesting.”

Mitigating Water Shortages

Water shortages are a growing concern for the world over, but especially for residents of Central Texas. As more people move to our beautiful hill country and the population grows, the demand for water increases significantly. In Texas around 75% of our water is sourced from groundwater, that is the aquifers. Today many people who have their own private well tapping into the aquifer are finding that their wells are running dry. Water shortage is no longer a threat for many, it is a reality.


In a KXAN article titled, More Central Texas Homeowners Turn to Rainwater Harvesting, they stated, “Even with the recent rainfall in Central Texas, it wasn’t enough to recharge some of the aquifers. It’s left many wells dry and homeowners, like David Walsh, turning to a different type of water storage called rainwater harvesting.”


Interestingly it’s not just about scarcity, but also proper water management. To quote the World Water Council, “There is a water crisis today. But the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. The crisis is managing water so badly that billions of people — and the environment — suffer badly.”


For sustainability, a healthy

relationship between natural cycles and the available natural resources is a must. In order to protect the existing reservoirs, rivers, aquifers, and ecosystems from further destruction, while preserving it for future generations, we need to harness the largest and most accessible resource currently going down the drain: Rain.




Managing Stormwater

Managing stormwater is also a growing concern as our region's growth and rapid development is increasing impervious surface coverage with every new building and parking lot. Consequently, when it rains, a significant portion of the water does not have the opportunity to naturally permeate into the soil. Instead, it quickly flows over these impervious surfaces. This water, known as "stormwater," contributes to the overall volume of runoff, which increases issues such as erosion, flooding, and damage to buildings. Here in Central Texas we often experience periods of drought followed by heavy rainfall in a concentrated period of time, which can exacerbate the issues.

“A higher volume of water entering the stormwater system results in a greater flow and more velocity that picks up soil and pebbles and deposits them downstream; this is called "erosion." It's the same process that formed the Grand Canyon millions of years ago! Erosion changes the characteristics of a stream and can make it less stable.”

Effective stormwater control plays a crucial role in preventing erosion and preserving the stability of land and water systems. When stormwater runoff is not properly managed, it can accumulate and flow with excessive force, leading to erosion of the soil and destabilization of the surrounding landscape. Installing rainwater harvesting systems is one way that we can help to mitigate the negative effects of stormwater runoff in our growing communities.


Conserving Natural Resources

It is no question that water is an essential natural resource to sustain life. So with groundwater becoming increasingly scarce, aquifers dropping to precipitous levels, and increased water needs due to population growth, it is more important than ever to conserve this natural resource.


In Central Texas it is becoming more and more clear how critical this natural resource is. Due to our current water crisis in the Texas Hill Country, one of our iconic swimming holes- Jacobs Well will be closed to swimmers for the summer of 2023 due to unsafe and low water conditions. “Aquifer and river conditions have not been this poor in the 20-plus year history of the District — including the 2011 drought,” states the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District's website. Rainwater collection is one way that property owners can do their part in the conservation effort, reduce the strain on our aquifers, and increase their resiliency.


Another benefit of rainwater harvesting is that it requires less energy than pumping groundwater. Groundwater pumping can be an energy-intensive process. By harvesting rainwater instead, property owners can reduce their energy usage and promote a more sustainable water supply. Overall, rainwater harvesting is an effective way to conserve natural resources and promote sustainable resource management.


Final Thoughts about The Importance of Rainwater Harvesting in Central Texas


Rainwater harvesting is one way that we can all do our part to conserve one of our most vital natural resources, water. Here in the Texas Hill Country we continue to see the effects of the growing water crisis in our communities. From watching our neighbors wells run dry to witnessing our rivers at all time lows, more and more Texans are turning to rainwater collection as part of the solution.

“But as the state continues to grow at a rapid pace and demand on our surface and groundwater supplies increases, the role that rainwater harvesting can play in commercial- and community-scale projects and facilities is evolving statewide. Across Texas, schools, libraries, businesses, and utilities are implementing innovative rainwater harvesting methods to divert and store water from the sky on a big scale.”

Harvesting rainwater can be an effective way to mitigate water shortages, manage stormwater, and conserve natural resources in Central Texas. By capturing rainwater on site, property owners can reduce their reliance on traditional water sources, lower their water bills, and help to ensure a more sustainable water supply for the future. In addition, rainwater harvesting can help to manage stormwater by reducing the amount and rate of runoff, which can help to reduce the risk of flooding, erosion, and water pollution. In a region that experiences periods of drought and large amounts of rainfall, rainwater harvesting can be an effective way to promote water conservation and resilience.

natures precious natural resource, water

In an article by the Global Center on Adaptation they stated, “At an individual level, RWH (rainwater harvesting) can reap economic benefits such as lower expenditure on water – alongside enhanced security during times of water scarcity, plus increased individual sustainability and resilience. On a larger scale – community, city, and national – the benefits are:

• stormwater retention (increased resilience to floods)

• reduction of pressure on main water supply system (both demand and supply side)

• rejuvenation of underground water (aiding water security)”


By investing in rainwater harvesting systems, property owners can help to ensure a reliable source of clean, soft, and pure water for their families, while doing their part to conserve and manage our precious natural resources. Harvesting rainwater is a practical and sustainable solution to the water challenges faced by central Texans, and it's a step that property owners can take to ensure a more secure water future for their communities.

 

Some Incentives Offered in Central Texas


In central Texas, rainwater collection has become an important way to supplement traditional water sources and provide a reliable source of water. Due to the current strain on our water supply there are several incentives offered to those who choose to utilize rainwater harvesting. We have compiled a list of some* of the incentives offered in our region below.


State-wide: Texas sales tax exemption on rainwater harvesting supplies
Hays County Tax Exemption
City of San Marcos Rebate
New Braunfels Utilities Non-Potable Rainwater Harvesting Rebate
Austin Rainwater Harvesting, Residential/Commercial Rebate

*Please note this list may not include all of the incentives offered, we have compiled this list as a convenience, please verify with your local offices*


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