Government urges businesses to collect rainwater

Rainwater harvesting systems estimated to deliver payback within three years, with rebates available on initial investments

The government is today calling on businesses to consider installing rainwater harvesting systems on roofs and other open surfaces as a means of cutting their mains water costs.

Government-funded agency Envirowise is seeking to promote wider adoption of the technology and is highlighting the availability of an incentive scheme that allows firms to claim rebates on all investment made in rainwater collection systems in the first year of installation.

Claire Sweeney, water specialist at Envirowise, said that water collected from roofs, car parks and other open areas can be used in all kinds of areas that use mains water, such as toilets, cooling systems and appliances.

"In general, businesses will not need to treat the water unless its for drinking or food preparation and the tax breaks can mean the scheme is a worthwhile investment," she said.

According to Envirowise calculations, some versions of the technology can deliver a return on the initial investment within two to three years.

The amount of water that can be collected depends on the size of collection area and the size of storage tank installed, but any supply can always be backed up from the mains in the event of drought.

As well as helping save on water bills, rainwater collection systems can help improve

the overall BRE environmental assessment method (BREEAM) performance for a building, which may help increase the attractiveness of the building to tenants or potential buyers.

Leicester City Council has reduced the volume of mains water used at Humberstone Golf Course by 20 per cent through the installation of rainwater harvesting for irrigation. The project is expected to deliver a return on investment within five years.

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