South African is a water scarce country and studies indicate that 98% of available water supplies are already exploited. In addition, a number of South African cities, such as Johannesburg, are vulnerable to water shortages if a severe drought occurs (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2011).
Therefore, it is important to understand how water can be used as efficiently as possible and to explore alternatives to municipal piped water supplies. Rainwater harvesting provides a simple way of capturing and storing water which can be used to supplement, or replace municipal water supplies. It can be used to reduce the pressure on municipal systems and provides a valuable buffer for households and businesses against drought and local water shortages.
This chapter describes how rainwater harvesting can play a valuable role in increasing the resilience and sustainability of water supply. The different types of rainwater harvesting systems are described and advantages and disadvantages of the technology listed. Some of the key design and operational principles are presented to enable the practicality and applicability of systems to be understood. Finally, conclusions are drawn and policy, and other, recommendations are made to support the increased adoption of rainwater harvesting systems in South Africa.
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