The capture and storage of rain water is becoming more critical as local water sources such as lakes, reservoirs and groundwater continue to decline despite regular rain events. Demand is becoming greater than the supply and the rains that do fall on our ground are lost. Rainwater is actually flowing away from the area it falls on due to development. Water cannot soak into asphalt, concrete or shingles. It flows very quickly off of these surfaces and in the process it carries a variety of pollutants from dust and dirt to oils, fertilizers and pesticides. This mixture flows quickly into storm sewers and in some cases, ponds and streams.
Highly developed areas can have 50% or more surface area covered by impervious surfaces forcing water away from the area where it’s needed. The inundation of water and compounds wreaks havoc in these delicate systems and disrupts the natural processes. Sediments smother benthic habitats creating an environment where only a few less desirable species can survive. The increased water velocity strips the aquatic vegetation from the shores exposing the soil to subsequent erosion and habitat loss.
The warm water flowing off of hot summer asphalt robs the natural system of dissolved oxygen and increases the production of noxious algal species, and excess fertilizers speed up this process. Pesticides and herbicides destroy the native flora and fauna leaving behind tough non-native species that thrive in the less competitive environment. According to the EPA this urban runoff is the number one cause of pollution in coastal environments. Almost 50% of our stream miles, 45% of lake acres and 35% of estuary and bay square miles surveyed by the EPA are considered below the standards for fishing and swimming.
All rivers lead to the sea and pollution generated in the Midwest ends up in the Gulf of Mexico where it continues its destruction. The Gulf is home to the largest dead zone in the world where little survives. A once-thriving fisheries industry is in danger because of runoff generated throughout the rivers watershed.
As rainwater run-off is carried away it does not have the opportunity to soak into the soil or groundwater reserves so our aquifers continue to lose water and new water is not coming in. Wells throughout the country are going dry or have to be lowered to access the lower water levels. This will become a greater issue in the future as demand continues to rise.
Highly efficient pumps are needed to move water through a water feature, which can be viewed by some as a waste of power but it’s an extremely important component of a healthy ecosystem – especially in a closed system. The pumps are either magnetically driven (no oil) or for greater capacities, oil-filled but the oil is vegetable based and nontoxic to aquatic life.
The recirculation will create waterfalls, which as it occurs in nature will oxygenate the water as it tumbles and cascades over the stones. This oxygenation process is the cornerstone of a healthy system and it will oxidize toxic compounds and create the proper conditions for other organisms to flourish. One animal’s waste products becomes the other’s food source, the byproducts of this complex process are actually valuable nutrients that can be utilized by aquatic plants that are part of the system. The process of phytoremediation not only utilizes the excess nutrients within the water but can also remove heavy metals and a variety of other toxic substances.
The stored nutrient-rich water can also be used to irrigate surrounding terrestrial plantings giving them all of their requirements for growth. In fact, the utilization of this valuable resource will eliminate the need for separate fertilizers, saving money and our environment from the production of unnecessary chemicals. Native plants used in and around a water feature will help supply these animals with a valuable food source and possible nesting/breeding sites. A well designed water feature is required by the National Wildlife Federation to have your property designated as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.
The biodiversity found within healthy aquatic systems is greatly underestimated. In fact, these small features become islands of life within the urban environment. These seemingly small insignificant features play a crucial role of supplying a clean water source for a variety of animal species such as rabbits, birds, deer, fox, dragonflies, butterflies, frogs and toads all of these animals are an important part of our world and help stabilize the overall animal communities within a given area. It’s estimated that the free services nature supplies us is valued at $33 trillion dollars and it’s currently in jeopardy due to the combined stresses on our environment.
The concept of biological filtration and working with Mother Nature is one of the founding principles of Aquascape. The process involves using a filter media with a high surface area providing a habitat for microbial colonization. This process eliminates the need for chlorination or other harsh chemical treatments to keep water clean. The ornamental aspect of water features should not be overlooked since water feature owners tend to be more in tune with nature because it impacts their daily lives.
Harvesting the rain alleviates many of the problems associated with storm water run-off. Accessing the stored rainwater for irrigation purposes is the most obvious benefit, but diverting the polluted water from entering the sewer system will help the larger environmental umbrella. Adding a decorative water feature to help circulate and filter the water makes the capture and storage of rainwater appealing to any landscape.
Contact us to learn more about the Aquascape™ RainXChange™ Rainwater Harvest Systems.