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Rainwater May Be Used in N.C. Homes

Posted July 24, 2007

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— A proposed change in the state building code would use rainwater in homes to conserve millions of gallons of water and cut water bills.

The North Carolina Building Code Council is researching a rain-water method in which builders could install concrete tanks in homes. The tanks would catch and store rainwater, which could then be used in the home.

Rex Bost, a home builder in Franklin County, is advocating that the Building Code Council adopt the method.

"It just made so much sense, it's as simple as that. It's a no brainer, and surely, if we start the process, people are going to see how logical it is, and we'll change the way we use our water," said Bost.

Bost said that he has been using the method for years to water lawns at the houses he builds. He said that he believes that collected rainwater could be used in other ways that don't require drinkable water.

"Statistics show that toilet flushing uses up to third of the potable water used in a house, and it's kind of silly for us to be spending all the money to process and purify all the water for flushing toilets," said Bost.

Bost also pointed to environmental benefits to the system. Collecting and storing rainwater reduces the amount of storm runoff, he said.

Dan Tingen, chair of the Building Code Council and also a homebuilder, indicated an initially favorable reception to the idea.

"It's absolutely forward thinking, and I would expect to sometime have those provisions in North Carolina," said Tingen.

Tingen stressed that North Carolina is experiencing the need for water conservation measures like rainwater collection.

"We're to the point as an industry that we recognize we've got to save and we've got to create new, innovative ways of preserving water," said Tingen.

The Building Code Council is researching the proposed change and could make a decision in the next six months, Tingen said.

Bost said that the system of reusing rainwater could help maintain growth in a time of drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor classifies the Falls Lake watershed area, which includes the Triangle, as being in a moderate drought.

"We can't just keep overtaxing our water supplies, and so, if we find a way to help conserve the water, then it's going to keep the doors open for us to continue to build and be prosperous," said Bost.

19 Comments

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  • jailorjoe1978 Jul 25, 2007

    ok for everyone who wants to bash the guy. i dont understand why. he didnt claim to invent anything... he simply plans to try and change the building code to allow the use of such water systems, and propose a few guidelines to follow when installing the systems to allow for them to meet a standard. this wasnt a story about somone inventing a new way to save water, this was a story about a guy who knows the building codes make it very complicated to install the systems, and he plans to do something about it (by proposing a change to the code). here's an idea.. how about actualy READING the story next time. maybe even the WHOLE story instead of all the short words.

  • Halyard Jul 24, 2007

    I see everyone is in agreement on this one. Who wants to bet it becomes a mandate AND THEN, they'll find a way to tax it!

  • Nothing New Jul 24, 2007

    Such a new idea???? When I was growing up on the farm, the rain water was collected off the roof of the house in to what is called a CISTERN. We used it for everything, washing clothes, dishes, bathes, flushing toilets. Drinking water and cooking water was brought in by going to the well with a bucket and bringing it into the house. Darn all these new fangled ideas, or are they just ways that our grand parents and great grandparents lived and conserved resoucres??????

  • Hip-Shot Jul 24, 2007

    Wow!!!! Cisterns, what an invention... seriously that has been used for thousands of years, and if you tour old forts like Caswell and Macon, you'll find them there too.

  • gopanthers Jul 24, 2007

    Has anyone ever seen this system before? Where would you put this thing. On the roof or on side of the house with Rain Gutters looking like a Roller Coaster (going every which way) on your house directing all the rain water to fill this concrete tub?

  • twobits Jul 24, 2007

    Are they proposing that the change be required? Or just changing the code so the system is allowed to be used? I don't think it's a good idea to require this system, it just might not be appropriate for every home built. It does sound like a good system though, if it is publicized and made available. Some people may even decide to retrofit their homes if the benefit outweighs the cost to them.

  • gopanthers Jul 24, 2007

    But if this method was used would the water companies then not raise our water rates to compensate for their lost monies in water use that we would stop using to water our yards and flushing our toliets?

  • ladyblue Jul 24, 2007

    I got a question. My son moved to sub division that each had their own well. Thinking of the future when the city offered the county residents a chance to hook onto city water because the cost was a fraction of what it would cost later on he decided it was a good thing. He planned to use the well water for yards, and outside things and the city water for house use. No, after the fact he learns the codes or laws don't allow that(Johnston County). Does anyone know why? He was trying to conserve water by using some of each.

  • CR2793 Jul 24, 2007

    Even if it's not a new idea, it's still pretty cool!

    As for keeping "the doors open for us to continue to build and be prosperous," we should find better ways to grow than through sprawl. It can be done vertically (taller buildings, underground areas). I doubt in the Triangle that catching rainwater will lead to local overpopulation. At best, it would keep the groundwater levels and reservoir levels above drought.

  • Rolling Along Jul 24, 2007

    olivedrabby,
    I hate to say it but a lot of building codes defy common sense. And I suspect were put in place to line someone (read a supplier or builders pocket) I have been involved in alternative buildings for years. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how well engineered or energy efficient something might be...it just has to "meet code" so we end up with a whole lot of very similar cheaply built houses that won't last as long as the mortgage.

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