What is Rainwater Harvesting?

This is the gathering of rainwater and its storage and use for domestic, agricultural or industrial purposes. The water collected may be used for:

  • drinking
  • livestock
  • irrigation
  • refilling aquifers (‘groundwater recharge‘)

How is rainwater harvested/stored?

Water may be gathered from every square area on which it falls and subsequently stored in affordable containers or water storage units such as plastic tanks.  Water collection areas may include:

  • Concrete/zinc roofs
  • Road pavements
  • Corridors
  • Greenhouse plastic roofing

Rainwater Harvesting in Jamaica

In Jamaica, our water resource is often mismanaged.  However rainwater harvesting can mitigate through the adoption of the following practices:

  • Water catchment areas can be put in place on both public and private buildings
  • Water collected should be stored in containers which are safe from pests and rodents
  • Householders can store water in tanks for backyard gardening
  • Water can be stored in black tanks for subsistence farming outside of the usual irrigated areas

Rainwater is also a good source of water in times of drought and can always be used to complement the normal water supply.  With respect to its use for drinking, it is to some extent healthier than chlorine and calcium based water from rivers, may also be treated for consumption.

Rainwater Harvesting and Agriculture:

Rainwater is free from high calcium and pH levels and is also good for activating chemicals used on farms.  Farmers can set up mini-catchment areas, harvest the water for its later use to feed crops which will in turn give a higher yield.  Farms may also utilize underground storage tanks which collect rainwater channelled from catchment areas.  This method is suitable in hilly areas where water is scarce because of a lack of access to the national water system.  Water may also be harnessed from the greenhouse roofing area and stored for use on the farm.