Booming Business: How to cash in on the emerging market of water harvesting

By Brian Quill

Water harvesting is the hottest new business opportunity in the landscape industry. Don’t believe me? Just ask any developer, architect or engineer. Even homeowners are asking for water harvesting. So, what is water harvesting, and, more importantly, how can your company cash in on this emerging market?

Water harvesting, simply put, is the on-site capture and reuse of alternative water sources. In our industry, the captured water is typically used for landscape irrigation. Three examples of alternative water sources are as follows:

Rainwater — defined as the water that lands on your roof — is by far the most popular and easiest to capture. It’s relatively clean and can often be reused without any treatment.
Storm water — defined as rainwater that hits the ground — is also fairly easy to capture. However, its quality can be compromised by urban pollutants, which could necessitate filtration and/or treatment prior to reuse.
Condensate — defined as water discharged from cooling equipment (chillers, air conditioners, etc.) — is easy to capture. Depending on the cooling equipment type, this water may require filtration or treatment, but often can be reused “as is.”

Creating a complete water harvesting system

Water harvesting for landscape irrigation works equally well on new construction and existing building retrofits. All you need is a catchment area, conveyance system to re-direct the water, a storage vessel to hold the captured water, pumping and controls to manage/move the water, and a distribution system to irrigate the landscape. Think of the millions of existing buildings and homes that could benefit from water harvesting, all of which already have most of the key water harvesting elements in place.

Catchment area (roof, patio, driveway, lawn, etc., or HVAC condensate)
Conveyance system (downspouts, storm drains)
Distribution system (irrigation system)

Just add a storage vessel, pump and controls for a complete water harvesting system. Need help? Pre-engineered, fully integrated water harvesting systems typically range in size from 2,000 to 400,000 gallons, complete with all the necessary pumps, controls, tanks, related components, hardware and filters. Advanced treatment, filtration and remote control can be engineered-to-order.

Reasons for growth in water harvesting

Underground poly tank 2,000 gallon modules are easy to handle and can be linked together for increased storage capacity.
All photos courtesy of John Deere Green Tech

Water harvesting demand is growing nationwide and will continue to expand due to the following:

Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) storm water regulations: Federal regulations mandate that any new construction site of one acre or more must comply with the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II. Essentially, these federal regulations require storm water to be treated prior to discharging it. This applies not just during construction, but for the life of the project.
“Green” building incentives: The US Green Building Council’s LEED program recognizes “green” building practices and awards sustainable design with LEED “Certification” through a rigorous evaluation process. Developers desire LEED Certification of their projects to effectively market their projects and to qualify for federal and state tax incentives. Follow the money.
Drought/water availability and price increases: Droughts and population growth have resulted in more people having to rely on less water, making it an increasingly scarce commodity, the price of which is going up.
Heightened public awareness of climate change: Heightened awareness of global climate change and our “carbon footprint” on this earth are fueling a “green” movement embraced by more and more consumers who want to do “the right thing.”

Want to grow your business? Water harvesting offers an opportunity to join the “green” movement, comply with federal regulations, distinguish your firm as an environmentally friendly member of the community, and provide a beneficial addition to any new construction or landscape maintenance project.

Brian Quill is district operations manager at John Deere Green Tech. Contact John Deere Green Tech at 800-427-0779, or visit your local John Deere Landscapes branch to discuss your next water harvesting project.


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