Experiences with Rainwater Harvesting & Greywater Recycling and their Future Prospects

Posted: Thursday 11th February 2010

Chairs Conference Summary by Alex Stephenson of Hydro International.

The weather on the morning of the conference, with flooding reported in several parts of the UK, followed by further devastating floods across Cumbria only two or three days afterwards, remind us that the behaviour of rainwater in the UK seems to be just as ‘boom and bust’ as our own economy and construction industry.

Despite all this rain and the subsequent, numerous, flooding incidents which have occurred throughout the UK in recent years we have also experienced, often severe, drought conditions in some areas and even now it is suggested that water supplies are under either moderate or serious levels of stress in most of England south of the Humber, a situation that will be exacerbated by demands for additional housing, particularly in the south east of the country.

The conference was attended by a diverse range of delegates from different disciplines including Water Companies, Consulting Engineers, the Environment Agency, Academia and RWH System Suppliers and was supported by the UKRHA (The UK Rainwater Harvesting Association). Presentations focussed on:

· the development of our National standards

· what can go wrong and achieving best practice

· the Australian experience (the country with the most advanced industry and practice)

· use in UK and overseas housing development including blackwater re-use

· practical and sustainable solutions to the problems

· rainwater harvesting experience in agriculture

· pilot work retro fitting rainwater harvesting into existing housing

· treatment of grey water to produce ‘green water’ and it’s uses

· and finally an overview of the costs and benefits of the these alternative systems.

It was clear from the day that there is a great deal of interest in RWH and GWR and these innovations will undoubtedly have a place in any integrated approach to water management with the correct development of valid, well thought out standards and guidelines, these techniques will surely become mainstream. Germany is estimated to be installing fifty times more RWH systems than we currently use in the UK and as we have seen during this conference Australia are leading the way with the uptake of RWH, borne out of necessity – how long before we’re suffering the same degree of water stress ?

A free summary of these papers can be found on the Aqua Enviro website www.aquaenviro.com or full set of conference presentations to be purchased on a memory stick at £40.25 (inc 15% VAT & postage) or email training@aquaenviro.co.uk

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