Rainwater Harvesting System

What is it and how does it work?

The need for renewable resources is becoming clear as aging city infrastructures struggle to supply water and energy to people in a changing climate. Along with the Shed’s solar panels, the rainwater harvesting system demonstrates an essential target for sustainable cities: The efficient capture and reuse of rainwater.

Water harvested from the Shed’s roof supplies fish tanks and hydroponic grow beds, irrigates soil and drives all food-growing activities. Because of its central importance, water is conserved through methods that minimize evaporation like automated watering of crops and aquaponic loops.

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Notably, the Shed uses all of the water it harvests and does not discharge any agricultural water to sewers or surrounding waterways. It is thus a net-zero water system in that it produces all fresh water needed for its operation on site without drawing from lakes or rivers.

Why is it important?

The necessity of renewable resources is increasingly evident as aging city infrastructures struggle to supply water and energy to citizens in a changing climate. Along with the Shed’s wind turbine and solar panels, the rainwater harvesting system demonstrates an essential target for sustainable cities: Efficient capture and reuse of rain water.

Cities around the world have already adopted rainwater systems that include rooftop collection technologies, biofilters that use plants to manage stormwater and home rain gardens. In Mexico City, for instance, 32% of residents do not have enough water for basic necessities. Rainwater harvesting is addressing this scarcity. It is collected from rooftops and stored in large tanks to be later purified and used flushing toilets, showering, laundry and more. According to non-profit Isla Urbana, a staggering 815 million liters of water each year is harvested this way.

What Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are met?

The Shed illustrates the direct use of Ontario’s more-than-30-inch annual precipitation in the public good of growing local good. As such, it contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals of Responsible Consumption & Production (SDG 12) by reducing waste in growing food.

The Shed illustrates the direct use of Ontario’s more-than-30-inch annual precipitation in the public good of growing local good. As such, it contributes to UN Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action (SDG 13) by promoting climate-resilient agriculture.

What can you do?

Install a rain barrel and build a rain garden at home

Read more about through the following unaffiliated links

An overview of rainwater harvesting in Canada

A deeper technical dive into rainwater harvesting technology

Learn more about renewable water and energy features integrated into the Shed through this downloadable lesson plan example which can be done in the Food Shed or modified for at-home learning.