Christine E. Boyle, PhD is a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Environmental Finance Center. Dr. Boyle investigates new models for sustainable local water and energy provision.
Despite mounting evidence that rainwater harvesting systems present a cost-effective option for water and stormwater utilities to cope with protecting their water supply, a recent straw poll of rainwater harvesting industry professionals gathering at the recent American Rainwater Catchment System Association (ARCSA) annual meeting indicated utilities are more commonly viewed as foes, and not friends, of the rainwater harvesting industry. Aside from a few notable exceptions (i.e. Chapel Hill, NC, Austin, TX, San Diego, CA), utility concerns over public health, water sales declines, and a host of other issues have prevented widespread adoption of rainwater harvesting as an alternative water source and stormwater mitigation strategy. This situation presented a puzzle to Dr. Bill Hunt of NC State University, who presented growing evidence of utility-sponsored rainwater harvesting systems in water scarce locales of New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore at the ARCSA meeting. Continue reading