King County OKs rainwater as sole drinking water source

July 22, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 8 a.m. July 22, 2011

King County residents can now rely on cloudbursts as a thirst quencher.

On Thursday, the county Board of Health approved a measure to allow rainwater captured from roofs as the sole residential water source for single-family homes on septic systems. Under older rules, rainwater could only be used as a supplemental source.

The board acted in response to residents interested in building eco-conscious homes.

Kathy Lambert, a board member and Issaquah’s representative on the King County Council, proposed adding rainwater-catchment systems as a tool for another water source.

“Extending public water lines or digging a well are not always available or feasible in rural and rugged areas of King County, or they can be so expensive to install that they render a lot unbuildable,” she said in a statement. “The ability to utilize rainwater will be a particular advantage in mountainous areas of the county with terrain and soil conditions that make it difficult to site a well and on-site sewage system that do not interfere with each other.”

The code change follows recent action by the state Department of Ecology to remove permit requirements for rainwater harvesting.

“Roof-top rainwater collection systems could be good solution for homeowners who want to maximize water conservation,” Larry Fay, manager of community environmental health at Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement.  “These systems require close attention to water use management, so they aren’t right for everybody, but I’m pleased it’s now an option for single family homeowners.”

Public Health – Seattle & King County rules started to allow rainwater as a drinking water source last year, but only as a supplement to public water, a well or a spring.

Now, single-family homes on septic systems can use rainwater for all uses, albeit under certain conditions.

The regulation requires specific roof materials and qualifications for designers of rainwater catchment systems. Users must also install filtration and disinfection systems. Cisterns must be able to accommodate enough storage to last through typically dry summers.

“Use of rainwater as the sole source for household water encourages conservation every day, and conservation is the way we will be able to meet the water demands of the future,” Lambert said.

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No Responses to “King County OKs rainwater as sole drinking water source”

  1. Dave Tarsi on December 31st, 2012 1:02 am

    Rainwater harvesting (roof water harvesting) is a good thing, and it is refreshing to see that at least one county government is able to recognize this. What really has me confused is the complete lack of attention to one of the most important parts of rainwater harvesting that there could be and that is the use of an intermittent slow sand water filter, some times called a biosand filter, to purify water. Check out my website for the details. There are other websites on the net as well that have more information about this wonderful sustainable technology. To make a long story short, fill a 55 gallon barrel with pea gravel (on the bottom) and sand up to about 10 inches below the top. Have drain pipes at the bottom with holes drilled in them and a pipe running from those drains up to the top of the barrel. Then allow rainwater from a roof , or a shallow well to flow through the sand at a slow rate as gravity allows it, and keep the top of the sand covered with water. In several weeks a natural layer of bacteria forms on the top of the sand inside that filters out all the bad bugs. These filters work and they work well. This is the way wetlands filter water.
    We use slow sand filters here, at our location, and have been for 7 years. They will produce very high quality water and will remove the petroleum residue from tar shingles and air pollution, and will remove harmful bacteria, beaver fever cysts, and cryptosporidium cysts. To make the water safe all that is needed is a uv filter, and proper knowledge of their operation. The city of Salem, Oregon uses slow sand filters for their water. I could go on about this for hours. Check out my website, and others – just google slow sand filter.

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