Environmental Benefits of Rainwater Harvesting

You’ve heard that rainwater harvesting is a great way to increase the sustainability quotient in your eco-friendly garden, but if you’re like most of us, you don’t know exactly why.

Here are a few quick points followed by some key details for why rainwater harvesting is so absolutely vital for a thriving local ecology. 

Environmental Benefits of Rainwater HarvestingDid you know that rainwater harvesting is a great way to: 

  • Protect your local watershed;
  • Drought-proof and flood-proof your garden;
  • Restore the hydrologic cycle;
  • Recharge groundwater;
  • Reduce your carbon footprint;
  • Maintain healthy soils;
  • Keep your garden lush and healthy;
  • Lessen the effects of wet and dry spells;
  • Mitigate impacts of climate change;
  • Utilize recycled materials (a given, if you choose BlueBarrel!)



The environmental benefits of rainwater harvesting are are many!

Most of us know that rainwater harvesting is good for the environment, but we need a little help articulating why. Here are some of the major ways you align with Mother Earth when you capture rainwater for on-site use:


  • Reduce your Draw on Stressed Systems (Conserve Water): Aging water infrastructure is expensive to update, and groundwater and reservoirs are often overdrawn. When you supply a portion of your own water from the rain that falls on your roof, you reduce your draw on these stressed systems.


  • Environmental Benefits of Rainwater Harvesting

    This graphic illustrates runoff and infiltration rates in natural vs. developed landscapes. (Click image to enlarge.)

    Restore the Hydrologic Cycle (Reduce Stormwater Impacts & Recharge Groundwater): In a natural landscape, approximately 50% of stormwater infiltrates into the ground, recharging groundwater. About 40% evaporates, and only 10% runs off. In developed landscapes by contrast (e.g. our neighborhoods!), only 15% infiltrates and a whopping 55% runs off! This is because water can’t penetrate the hardscape in a developed environment (roads, rooftops, parking lots, etc.). When you collect rainwater for use in your garden, you reduce stormwater impacts by holding water on-site rather than letting it run off. As you release it later (when the ground is no longer saturated), you allow that water to sink back into the ground where it belongs – hydrating soils and recharging the groundwater beneath us. In other words, you fix the broken hydrologic cycle by restoring the infiltration link.  If you’ve heard the mantra: Slow it, Spread it, Sink it, Store it! that’s what we’re talking about here (as opposed to Pump it, Pipe it, Pollute it!)


  • Stream ecosystemProtect your Local Watershed (Reduce Pollution & Erosion): When rainwater infiltrates onsite, it is filtered naturally by the earth, and is prevented from entering storm drains and surface waters as polluted runoff. Left unmitigated, rainwater sheets off hardscapes collecting contaminants along the way. When stormwater runs heavy, it causes stream banks to erode as well, causing further damage to our sensitive waterways and wildlife habitat. According to the EPA, stormwater runoff is the number one source of pollution in the USA. When you Slow it, Spread it, Sink it, and Store it on your site, you prevent this from happening. 


  • Reduce your Carbon Footprint (Mitigate Climate Change by Reducing Energy Use): There is a strong nexus between energy and water in our modern world. In the state of California, over 20% of per-capita energy use is dedicated to treating, heating, and transporting water! By reducing your reliance on pumped and treated water sources, you are contributing to a collective savings in energy.


  • Butterfly in GardenIncrease the Health of Your Garden (Mitigate Climate Change with Healthier Plants & Soils): It’s no coincidence that plants love rainwater better than any other water source. Not only is rain free of the salts, chemicals and minerals found in other water sources; by nature’s design it has the perfect pH balance and nitrate delivery, ready for uptake by your thirsty garden. Benefit from the beauty of a healthy garden ecosystem, while the earth benefits from all that a healthy garden provides… including cleaner air, carbon sink, pollinator habitat, and more!

So what are you waiting for? With a full understanding of the environmental benefits of rainwater harvesting, you can align with Mother Earth and start collecting rain today. Use the green navigation bar above to get started!

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