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1st International Conference on Rain Water Cistern Systems
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - June 1982

Section 2: Rainfall Analysis

Page 92

Computerized Methods in Optimizing Rainwater Catchment Systems

Eric J. Schiller & Brian Latham
University of Ottawa, Canada

Use of rainwater Collection Systems in Canada

Rainwater collection systems (RWCS) have been widely used in Canada from the time of the early settlers. The tradition was brought from Europe and fitted well with the needs here. In the older farm areas, such as that around Ottawa, a cistern was a common part of a farmhouse as it provided soft water for washing and bathing- a necessity with natural soaps. Drinking water was obtained from a well or spring, if available, because of the mineral content which "quenched" thirst.

Presently, RWCS's are still in use on farms in Ontario and on the prairies of the west where groundwater may be saline and farmhouses are separated by great distances. In many coastal areas, such as the Atlantic area of Nova Scotia, the terrain is rocky with little or no soil cover. A central water system is difficult and prohibitively expensive to install. However, coastal areas have high, consistent rainfall and moderate temperatures which make a RWCS an attractive drinking water source.

Another area for use of RWCS's that may show great promise in the future is the northern regions of Canada. During the warm season, RWCS's could provide safer drinking water. Fully reliable, year-round systems would not be practical because of the long freeze up during the winter period.

In all of these remote areas, a RWCS represents a least-cost option because of the isolation of individual users, the unsuitable quality of groundwater or the sheer unavailability of fresh water. Estimates o£ costs for setting up a system will depend on many factors, but are reduced because of the nature of Canadian houses. Much of what is required is already constructed in the house and cannot be charged exclusively to the RWCS. Roofs are generally large and pitched (to carry away the rain and snow). A sealed basement with poured concrete floor and walls and plumbing is standard. Hence, one and possibly two walls are available for use in tank construction. In areas without a central water system, a pump and pressure tank are standard equipment and are not an additional cost due to the RWCS.

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