89.1 WEMU

Issues of the Environment: Using Rainwater To Build Sustainable Water Systems

May 22, 2019

Matt Grocoff
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

According to one of the world’s leading, net-zero energy builders, the population has outgrown its manufactured water systems.  Matt Grocoff is founder of the Thrive Collaborative and has installed a rainwater system at his Ann Arbor home that he is working to make the water system of the future.  In this conversation with WEMU’s David Fair, Grocoff explains why a shift in the way we engineer our water systems is a necessity and how it can work on this week's "Issues of the Environment."


Overview

  • Ann Arbor resident Matt Grocoff feels that the rainwater he collects for his roof and purifies in his basement is entirely safe for drinking.
  • The rainwater runs down his metal roof, through his gutters, and into a system that processes the water with three stages of micro-filtration, plus carbon and UV filters.
  • At this point, the water is still not considered legally “potable."  However, some might argue that it is cleaner than “city” water, since rainwater by nature is free from PFAS and other chemical residues like pharmaceuticals that are found in municipal water.
  • According to the CDC, many states consider rainwater the property of the state, and they prohibit its collection.  The CDC cautions that untreated rainwater can be contaminated with pathogens and chemicals, and that it should never be consumed without proper purification and testing.
  • Because Matt’s water is considered “not potable” by the legal definition, plumbers are prohibited piping to his sinks, bathtubs, or any tap that might be used for drinking.  Right now, he is using the water for the laundry and toilets, as that is permitted by law.

Resources:

Thrive Collaborative

Veridian at County Farm

Tour Matt Grocoff’s Home

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu