How Civil Engineers Can Scope Your Rainwater Harvesting System Plan

How Civil Engineers Can Scope Your Rainwater Harvesting System Plan

Published: May, 2023 | by Wahaso Water Harvesting Solutions

How Civil Engineers Can Scope Your Rainwater Harvesting System Plan

A rainwater harvesting system plan involves collecting and storing rooftop rainwater to be treated for irrigation, flush fixtures, cooling tower makeup, and other non-potable uses. Civil engineers play an integral role in scoping rainwater harvesting system feasibility due to the common inclusion of water and sewer infrastructure and subterranean cisterns (vaults), and here are some of the steps involved:

1. Site Assessment

Rainwater Harvesting System Scoping begins with an evaluation of the site’s overall suitability for water capture and reuse. Civil engineers evaluate site topography, soil conditions and content, and rainfall patterns to determine the best location for the collection and storage components, as well as the treatment system itself, if located outdoors.

2. Water Supply and Water Demand Assessment

In conjunction with the project MEP engineers and system manufacturer, the Civil team analyzes the water supply and demand factors of the project or site: rooftop square footage and annual rainfall volume, as well as non-potable water demand metrics such as water pressurization and water quality requirements specific to the type of end use (irrigation, toilet flushing, laundry, cooling tower makeup, etc). This helps determine the appropriate capacity and design of the rainwater harvesting system.

3. Rainwater Collection System and Cistern Design

Based on site and water supply and demand determinations, Civil engineers and Project Architects will develop the rainwater collection methodology: quantity, sizing and placement of building adjacent gutters, downspouts and pre-filters, and the Civil team will work with the MEP and system manufacturer to direct the design of the rainwater cistern and piping distribution to the rainwater treatment system, and to the water demand system(s).

4. Rainwater Treatment (Filtration and Sanitization) Approach

Depending on the intended use of the rainwater, a treatment must include pre-filtration, ongoing filtration, and often sanitization, to ensure water remains free of sediment and contaminants. While the Civil engineers will help inform the approach, the MEP and system manufacturer will ultimately lead the mechanical and plumbing design process.

5. System Regulation and Permitting Compliance

In conjunction with the project contractor and subcontractors, Civil engineers will ensure that rainwater harvesting system complies with all necessary regulations and permits.

6. Construction and Installation Oversight

Once the design is complete and approved, Civil engineers and Civil contractors will often help oversee the installation of any outdoor and below-grade Civil infrastructure (piping, subterranean filters, cisterns, etc). Typically, ongoing maintenance and service of rainwater harvesting systems is outside of the Civil purview.

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Tags: Civil Engineers, Rainwater Harvesting for Commercial Buildings

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