We are all used to turning on our water faucet and having water come out. In most areas across the mainland, either a well is drilled or your home is hooked up to a county or city water source. These sources can be found on the Big Island as well but there are many homes, especially south of Hilo, that have water catchment tanks. How does water catchment work? What maintenance has to be completed to keep the system working and safe? And will I ever run out of water? Water catchment is a way of life for us on the Big Island and it isn’t hard to keep things working and safe.
Water catchment systems are fairly simple and prevention is the best maintenance. Basically, water falls from the sky and onto your roof (usually metal roofs are used). The square footage of the roof determines how much water will run into the gutters. The gutters feed the water into a tank which normally has a liner inside to keep the water clean. Think of the water tank as a small pond. There will be some debris that enters and falls to the bottom. Anything you can do to keep the debris out of the water catchment tank will keep your water cleaner and safer. I personally use a ladies knee high nylon and zip tie on the entry conduit to keep the big leaves and twigs out. I then change it every couple of months or so depending on the amount of rain we received. Keeping your gutters clean will also help keep debris out of your water catchment tank along with making sure you have a good cover that is secured to the tank.
The water is then pumped from the water catchment tank into your home using a pump and pressure tank in most cases. The water is then run through a couple of simple filters, usually a string filter and then a smaller micron filter. If you plan on drinking the water, a UV Filter System is commonly used at the end of this system before the water enters the home. Near Pahoa, we normally have plenty of rainwater through most of the year to keep the water tanks full. There are trucks, however, that will deliver around 3000 gallons of water for about $125-200 depending on where you live.
Water catchment systems have been around forever and many safety features such as liners and filters have been added over the years, but the basics are the same. It isn’t hard to maintain and keep the few working parts clean will help you keep water in your home. Don’t be afraid of water catchment. It is a way of life here on the Big Island and there are many professionals in the area to help with any questions or problems.