You are here:
Life Cycle Assessment of Domestic and Agricultural Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Ghimire, S., JohnM Johnston, W. Ingwersen, AND T. Hawkins. Life Cycle Assessment of Domestic and Agricultural Rainwater Harvesting Systems. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 48(7):4069-4077, (2014).
To further understanding of the environmental implications of rainwater harvesting and its water savings potential relative to conventional U.S. water delivery infrastructure, we present a method to perform life cycle assessment of domestic rainwater harvesting (DRWH) and agricultural rainwater harvesting (ARWH) systems. We also summarize the design aspects of DRWH and ARWH systems adapted to the Back Creek watershed, Virginia. The baseline design reveals that the pump and pumping electricity are the main components of DRWH and ARWH impacts. For nonpotable uses, the minimal design of DRWH (with shortened distribution distance and no pump) outperforms municipal drinking water in all environmental impact categories except ecotoxicity. The minimal design of ARWH outperforms well water in all impact categories. In terms of watershed sustainability, the two minimal designs reduced environmental impacts, from 58% to 78% energy use and 67% to 88% human health criteria pollutants, as well as avoiding up to 20% blue water (surface/groundwater) losses, compared to municipal drinking water and well water. We address potential environmental and human health impacts of urban and rural RWH systems in the region. The Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) model-based life cycle inventory data were used for this study.
Article published in Environmental Science and Technology
Record Details:Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Organization:U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LAB
ECOSYSTEMS RESEARCH DIVISION