RainSaucers Make Rainwater Harvesting More Accessible

I love reading about little innovations that make life easier for so many people with eco-friendly solutions. In the realm of water conservation, every drop is precious and rain water is one of the purest forms of water before it reaches the ground. It has long been used for non-potable uses and rain water harvesting (RWH) is a technology that has not changed in over 4000 years. RainSaucers aims to do one better by ensuring that RWH produces potable drinking water.

The RainSaucer looks like an upside down umbrella. It decreases the chances of contamination by ensuring that rain water does not come in contact with building surfaces. It also comes with an inbuilt filter. It was developed by Tom Spargo, who included five components: a food grade polypropylene ’saucer’, pipe fitting, mesh filter, fasteners, and a retention ring for wind resistance. The Saucer harvests about 6.75 gallons per inch of rain and can work with any container. A single 200-liter RainSaucers system, emptied periodically during the rainy season, can provide a family with seven months of clean drinking water. They have also developed a 18 gallon disaster-relief prototype that can be checked in as luggage.

According to Spargo, the RainSaucer was designed to scale-up the amount of water that can be harvested. “I simply pondered why it is that this great concept isn’t more widespread and decided it was too much of a ‘project’ and not enough of  a ‘product.’ RainSaucers aims to make RWH a product you can buy in local markets, just like you can buy solar ovens, solar lights, kick pumps, etc.”

Polypropylene was chosen as the primary material because it is low cost, food grade, FDA approved and BPA free. This reduces the amount of contamination and also makes its portable. RainSaucers can be rolled up for transportation and they can even be shipped by air. Finally, no tools are needed to install the Saucer.

Several RainSaucers have been installed in areas like California and are helping small-scale farmers. The system can be designed so that several Saucers can be linked to one single tank thereby increasing the surface area exposed to rainfall. Wider applications are seen in developing countries. The company just completed a field trip in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where they helped families save money by reducing their dependence on bottled water. Although the region has municipal water, it is very unclean and citizens are forced to buy bottled water for fear of water-bourne diseases. Citizens spend about $300 on bottled water which is one month’s income every year. The Guatemalan Saucer is the same as the one in the US except with an extra filtration unit.

India is the next target for RainSaucers. 18 of India’s 28 states have made RWH mandatory with no real system in place, which means less than half of those required households have compiled. This makes India a huge market for the company because water shortages are being acutely felt in many areas of the country. I cannot wait, I’ll be first in line.

Image Credit: RainSaucers. Potable water unit based on 5 gallon bucket, with extra filtration chamber

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net

5 responses

  1. I love this idea. If it can be produced inexpensively enough for third world users, it will answer a lot of prayers. I hope it gets some traction.

  2. How long would the filtration unit last? How much would it cost to replace? The water filters I have seen in Guatemala last about 2 years. The problem is that the families do not have the funds to replace them.

  3. For those of us who live in the Rust Belt, and are concerned about acid rain, it would be great if this company would partner with a water testing lab (which could offer a discount for testing to RainSaucer purchasers.) That way we would know if the rainwater we are collecting is safe to drink.

  4. I agree that it would be a good idea to purify the water before consuming it. The Watercone Solar Still is a purification technology that interests me — seems like they would be complementary (this for capture, the other for purification).

  5. In the UK, rainwater harvesting has already progressed to full house systems, including potable water supply.
    Although we have a relatively high annual rainfall, we still have massive water supply issues, particularly in the South East of England and rainwater harvesting has to be the way forward to ensure a sustainable future for all countries.

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