IWA Publishing

Harvested rainwater quality: the importance of appropriate design

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This paper summarises the physicochemical and microbiological quality of water from a rainwater harvesting (RWH) system in a UK-based office building. 7 microbiological and 34 physicochemical parameters were analysed during an 8 month period. Physicochemically, harvested rainwater quality posed little health risk; most parameters showed concentrations below widely used guideline levels for drinking water. However, RWH system components (e.g. fittings and down pipes) appear to be affected soft water corrosion, resulting in high concentrations of some metals (copper, zinc and aluminium). This suggests the material selection of such fittings should be considered keeping in view the hardness of rainwater of an area. Microbiologically, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella and Legionella were not present in the samples analysed. However, faecal coliform counts were high at the beginning of the study, but did decrease over time in weak correlation with increasing pH. Enterococcus faecalis displayed counts consistently above UK rainwater harvesting standards. Inappropriate roof and rainwater good design, as well as material selection appear to be responsible for the reduced microbial quality, as they promoted contributions from avian sources and inhibited cleaning activities. Building and RWH system designs require greater consideration of local factors, which are critical for optimising harvested rainwater quality, to prevent both the development of contaminated sediments and health impacts.

Keywords: harvested rainwater, water demand management, water quality

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