Finding a natural solution
The population of Texas will double by 2050 if growth continues at the same pace experienced between 2000 and 2010, according to the state demographer. That booming population would put acute demands on housing, education, infrastructure and potable water supplies.
Looking ahead, the City of San Marcos, Texas, located 25 miles south of Austin, is offering home and business owners a chance to install a professional rainwater harvesting system and receive a 50-percent rebate—up to $5,000 for homeowners and $20,000 for owners of commercial property.
Jeremy Delost, president and CEO of Acer Water Tanks, examines one of the Pioneer water tanks that the San Marcos, Texas-based company sells in North America.
Photo by Pat Pape
“Despite the recent heavy rains in Central Texas, San Marcos officials know this area is growing rapidly and realizes there may not be enough water for the future population,” says Jeremy Delost, president and CEO of Acer Water Tanks, a San Marcos-based tank distribution company that serves the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. “Without adequate clean water, growth will be limited, so city officials want residents to collect, store and use rain before it runs into streets and gutters.”
Many municipalities offer benefits to citizens who harvest rain, but the San Marcos rain catchment program is the most generous Delost has seen during his decade in the industry. Despite publicity about water shortages, many Texans are still unaware of the state’s water situation.
“Most people are accustomed to an unlimited supply of clean water at a cheap price,” said Delost. “They turn on their tap and safe, drinkable water comes out. This is why people don’t adopt rainwater harvesting on a large scale except in areas where water is expensive or no public water supply exists. Of course, water is free once you have a rainwater system.”
Despite poor well water and limited municipal water services in some areas, the Texas Hill Country lifestyle is extremely desirable, and people continue moving there. Rainwater harvesting has become a reliable source of domestic water, and many families live exclusively on rain that is far superior to water pumped from private wells during this time of water conservation.
“Residents to the area build their dream houses despite the poor well water and lack of city water, and they collect rain coming off their roof and store it in a large tank—maybe 20,000 or 30,000 gallons,” he said. “It becomes their sole water supply. As long as the system is well designed and constructed, they can store water indefinitely and maintain its high quality.”
In 2012, each Texan used an average of 83 gallons of water per day, reports the Texas Water Development Board. A 1-inch rain falling on a 1,000-square-foot roof will produce 600 gallons that can be stored and used as needed. A water-conscious family of four requires about 100,000 gallons of water per year for domestic use. Because San Marcos receives 35 inches of rain in an average year, a 4,500-square-foot collection area would supply the family with its annual water requirement.
“San Marcos and other Central Texas cities are growing fast, so access to plentiful, quality water is extremely important,” he added. “A rainwater harvesting system that collects water every time it rains and at no charge is ideal. Now that the city is subsidizing the cost of the system, residents should jump on board to secure a water supply for the future.”
Pat Pape is a freelance writer, blogger and communications consultant, who lives with her husband and numerous pets on a Texas hobby farm. See her writing portfolio.