The bacteria in rainwater should be evaluated. Our experience is that stored underground where it is very cold there is little reason to be concerned.
But everything is dependent on keeping the gutters relatively free of leaves and debris; that should be done in any case. Cleaning out the pre-reservoir sump regularly is another consideration for those harvesting the rain.
There is considerable resistance by the general public to building underground reservoirs. Part of this is no doubt based on the cost and the hassle-factor but also the official opinion that rainwater is not potable; in fact potentially dangerous.
There is far greater acceptance of above-ground rainwater tanks, both those of plastic and fibreglass despite the cost and much higher ambient temperature of the liquid. This is in fact more likely to foster a general risk of bacterial contamination.
After eight years of drinking untreated reservoir rainwater stored underground, with no problems whatsoever we finally succumbed to family pressure and installed filters and a UV-steriliser. It was the right decision seeing that we have the finance to do it.
There is certainly the potential to have bacterial infiltration of rainwater that has been harvested and stored in reservoirs and tanks of any sort.
The fact that it doesn't appear to happen to that stored underground we believe is because of the low temperature; and that any bugs dancing on the hot tin-roof of our home are likely to be killed by the sunshine. Bacteria in rainwater must be considered if it causes diarrhoea; it could happen
The very misleading assumption is that municipal water that has been treated is perfectly safe to drink; nothing could be further from the truth.
Mysteriously globules of liquid-mercury were discharged this week from the taps in Soweto; they were clearly visible but what about all the unseen chemicals and bacteria?
Whilst chlorination was a massive step forwards in preventing serious water-borne diseases, it has created other hazards should there be any organic material in solution. It does nothing to stop contamination in the conduits or to remove toxic chemicals; or plastic microparticles.
In short nothing is perfectly safe; we consider bacteria from rainwater, especially now that we have inserted filters and a UV-lamp, far less of a concern as compared to that from the utility. Our local municipality received the lowest Blue Dot score in the country; complete failure.
These considerations are weighed in more detail at post-chlorination.
In addition the availability of our water is far more reliable and comes courtesy of the heavens; it's free for those who have taken the trouble to install an underground reservoir.
Our underground rainwater reservoir contains 26,000 litres; about seven-thousand gallons.
If I was to do it again, I would recommend increasing the radius to 2.5 metres; and possibly the depth too, depending on the length of the dry-season. Water solutions need to be constantly rethought and updated.
The mark down on management is due to less than desirable cleaning of the sump that traps leaves and debris prior to the rainwater draining into the reservoir. It should be done at least every two months.
The bacteria in rainwater are close to zero but what about in tanks and reservoirs?
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