Some residents of the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia lost access to clean drinking water on January 9, when a coal-processing facility spilled roughly 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM—a chemical used to treat coal—into the Elk River and surrounding land. The spill affected the water supply for more than 300,000 people.
The quality of the water remains in question, but residents aren’t satisfied with a choice between expensive bottled water from the store and possibly polluted water from the tap. Increasingly, they’re going for a sustainable and self-sufficient alternative: rainwater harvesting.
While some rainwater collection systems are large and costly, a recent article by Marcus Constantino in The Charleston Daily Mail showed that a household’s water needs can be met with a downspout, a few repurposed 60-gallon pickle barrels, and a garden hose: