After a supremely stormy January and an even wetter February, it can be tempting to wish for an early end to our annual rainy season. But given the relatively dry November and December we saw, the 580 billion gallons of water we got statewide last month was exactly what we needed to bring us back to normal levels, according to a report from the San Jose Mercury News. We’ll need more of the same this month to keep us out of drought conditions this summer, but it’s anyone’s guess what lies ahead.
Because our rainy season can be so inconsistent, investing in a rain harvesting system can make a lot of sense, both environmentally and financially. As you’ll read below, there are new tax incentives in place to make these systems more affordable and they certainly appear to save money over the long-term. Could funding one of these systems be the right move for your property? Read on to find out more.
A new statewide incentive program makes installing a rainwater capture system more cost effective than ever. Proposition 72, which passed with a whopping 84 percent of the vote in the June 2018 election, exempts systems installed after January 1, 2019, from triggering a property tax hike. Before this measure’s passage, the addition of a rainwater harvesting system would have been considered “new construction” and thus opened the property to reassessment.
Rainwater capture can be as simple as placing a screened barrel at the bottom of a gutter downspout. But it can also be significantly more complex and involve a series of underground pipes, multiple downspouts and collection tanks able to hold thousands of gallons of water. Depending on your budget and water-saving goals, installing the system can be a one-day DIY affair or could require considerable time and outside resources to design and build.
Rainwater can most easily be used for irrigation, washing cars and pets, and other non-drinking uses. Rainwater capture systems also reduce flooding and erosion and, when used in landscaping, can flush salt build-up from plants and soils, leading to improved garden growth.
With the new tax incentive in place and rising water rates all but certain, rainwater harvesting is also likely to promote growth in another important place: your bank account.
Smart Saver Tip of the Month
Sweeping debris from sidewalks and driveways instead of blasting the hose can save 10 gallons of water a minute, according to the Water Education Foundation, a Sacramento-based nonprofit dedicated to outreach regarding water resource issues. Speaking of driveways, if you plan to wash the car in yours, just fill a bucket with soapy water and use a sponge or cloth. Don’t run the hose except for a quick rinse at the end. You could save 8 to 18 gallons a minute, according to the foundation, which estimates the average at-home car wash wastes about 100 gallons.