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Rainwater May Be Used in N.C. Homes

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

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RALEIGH, N.C. — 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.


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