Enhancing the Benefits of Rainwater Harvesting through Dedicated sub-sector Regulation

Regulatory instruments can be used to compel homeowners and other businesses to undertake mandatory rainwater harvesting to address issues related to water scarcity and conservation. These instruments can include laws, ordinances, and regulations that set specific requirements for the collection and use of rainwater.

Rainwater harvesting and management technologies are closely regulated in many areas to ensure their safety and effectiveness, particularly in heavily urbanized environments where the natural percolation and infiltration of water has been disrupted by paved surfaces and dense infrastructure. These regulations aim to encourage the responsible use of rainwater technologies, such as temporary storage systems, to mitigate the risk of flooding in areas such as malls, shopping centers, and residential neighborhoods. By capturing and temporarily storing rainwater, these technologies help reduce the strain on traditional drainage systems and protect against the damaging effects of excess water.

Several different aspects of rainwater harvesting may be regulated, including the design and installation of the systems, the quality of the stored water, and the use of the water.

The importance of regulation cannot be understated when it comes to protecting public health. One crucial example is the prohibition of using rainwater harvested from asbestos cement rooftops for any human consumption. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and can be present in the water collected from these roofs, posing a serious health risk to individuals who consume it. By strictly regulating and prohibiting the use of such water, we can effectively protect individuals from the potential dangers of asbestos exposure and ensure that safe and clean water is available for all.

In terms of design and installation, regulations may specify the minimum standards for materials and construction, as well as requirements for maintenance and repair. These regulations are often put in place to ensure that the systems are safe and able to withstand the elements.

The quality of the stored water may also be regulated to protect public health. In some cases, regulations may require that rainwater harvesting systems be equipped with filtration or treatment systems to remove contaminants from the water. Additionally, regulations may specify limits on the amount of certain substances that can be present in the stored water.

Many countries and states world over have in place some form of rainwater harvesting.

One example of such a regulatory instrument is the California Water Conservation Act, which requires all new residential, commercial, and industrial developments to include rainwater harvesting systems as a means of conserving water and protecting the state’s water resources. This law applies to both new construction and major renovations and requires that rainwater harvesting systems be designed to capture and store a certain amount of rainwater based on the size of the property and the type of development.

Another example of a regulatory instrument that promotes rainwater harvesting is the Water Conservation Ordinance in the city of Austin, Texas. This ordinance requires all commercial and multi-family residential properties to install rainwater harvesting systems that are capable of capturing and storing at least half of the annual rainfall for on-site use. The ordinance also provides incentives for businesses and property owners who go above and beyond the minimum requirements, such as rebates and reduced water rates.

Here in Uganda, rainwater harvesting is regulated by the Water Act of 2002 and the National Water and Sewerage Corporation Act of 2002. These acts provide guidelines for the collection, storage, and use of rainwater, as well as the construction and maintenance of rainwater harvesting systems.

Under the Water Act, individuals, and institutions are permitted to collect and use rainwater for domestic and non-domestic purposes, as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others to access water. However, any rainwater harvesting system that is intended for commercial use must be approved by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).

The NWSC Act also requires that all rainwater harvesting systems be properly designed, constructed, and maintained to ensure their safety and effectiveness. It is the responsibility of the owner or operator of the system to ensure that it meets these standards.

In addition to these regulations, the Uganda Water and Sanitation Sector Development Plan (2012-2022) also promotes the use of rainwater harvesting as a means of improving water security in Uganda. It recommends the development of policies and programs to encourage the adoption of rainwater harvesting systems, particularly in areas where access to safe and reliable water is limited.

In line with the current drive to ensure water security, the Ugandan regulation needs serious review to cure the problem of the unnecessary monopoly of the NWSC as a guarantor of rights to undertake rainwater harvesting, while there is a need for city-specific ordinances meant to compel those who undertake large surface area constructions encompassing both buildings and paved surfaces to undertake mandatory rainwater harvesting, which ultimately will go a long way in managing excess stormwater that would otherwise have percolated and infiltrated from overburdening the drainage systems.

Overall, the use of regulatory instruments to compel homeowners and other businesses to undertake mandatory rainwater harvesting can be an effective way to promote water conservation and address issues related to water scarcity. By setting specific requirements and providing incentives for compliance, these instruments can encourage the widespread adoption of rainwater harvesting practices, which can ultimately help to preserve and protect our water resources for future generations.

Rain Water Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is a technology used to collect, convey and store rain for later use from relatively clean surfaces such as a roof, land surface or rock catchment. The water is generally stored in a rainwater tank or directed to recharge groundwater

The practice of collecting rainwater from rainfall events can be classified into two broad categories: land-based and roof-based

At HYDRO CONCEPTS (U) LTD, we help you design and implement rainwater harvesting systems using recommended technologies such as first flush diverters, filters and water treatment systems. Do you want to harvest rainwater for irrigating your compound or lawn? Are you doing it for later domestic or animal use? Is it for use on fountains? Come to us and we will have it designed and implemented tailored to your need

First flush diverter systems

Whenever it starts to rain, dirt and debris from catchment surfaces and collection devices will be washed into the conveyance systems (e.g. down-pipes). Relatively clean water will only be available sometime later in the storm. This first batch of each rainfall is known as “first flush/foul flush”, and should be diverted from the storage tank

Several manual and automated means of selectively collecting clean water for the storage tanks exist. One such method is the use of automated constant volume first flush diverters

Hydro Concepts (U) Ltd has earned a mark of distinction as a national leader in smart rainwater harvesting technologies, and is thus your trusted partner in undertaking the installation of pre filtration systems like first flush diverters

Rooftop rainwater filters

We install and retrofit rooftop rainwater filters to new and existing rainwater harvesting systems. The rooftop rainwater filter is a simple, low tech, low maintenance technology that filters any physical impurities in your harvested rainwater, prior to storage

Water storage and reservoir tanks

We undertake the construction of bulk water storage and reservoir tanks, both above and underground. Our reservoir tanks have capacities up to 15,000 cubic metres. Our tanks come in a range of sizes and material i.e. masonry, ferro cement, plastic, glass lined steel tanks, and pressed steel water tanks

Our masonry tanks are made from environmentally friendly curved interlocking soil stabilized blocks (ISSBs). ISSBs are approved by UNBS as an excellent material for constructing strong and long lasting water tanks. Our production methods and technologies are environmentally friendly and sustainable since the bricks require only curing, compared to traditional fired bricks that promote deforestation and clay extraction from wetlands. Thus our low carbon building technique reduces deforestation, environmental degradation, unmonitored clay extraction from wetlands, and air pollution via smoke production

Our glass lined steel tanks can be used in water treatment, effluent treatment and sewage treatment plants as equalization tanks, aeration tanks, sludge holding tanks, etc.

Artificial aquifer recharge systems

Under our rainwater harvesting program, we enable you to harness storm water. In collaboration with our international partners, we design and implement surface water filtration systems for high volumes of water flowing from paved surfaces i.e. compounds and roads, and channel this into an injection well. Our systems are excellent in diverting, filtering, and retaining storm water in an injection well, there by augmenting groundwater level. We also use this technology to solve problems of flooding in all settings

Valley dams

We improve agricultural water productivity through up scaling of integrated watershed management via watershed level harvesting of runoff, and erection of micro check dams. These water harvesting and storage facilities ensure reliable water source for livestock and crop irrigation

Our large scale rainwater harvesting, storage and detention facilities such as dams, bunds, and reservoirs help divert flood waters for irrigation, groundwater recharge and flood control


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