CATCHMENT SYSTEMS IN HAWAII
Cathment systems are a very popular way for many of our island communities that allow people to “harvest” their own water. There are many parts of the Big Island that do not have access to the county water system or access to private water wells. So, as a way for people to still live harmoniously in various parts of the island, and still have access to water we have taken on the use of Catchment systems as a way of providing water to a home or farm. The system operates by capturing rain water from the roof of a home or other structure channeling it with rain gutters and storing it in a cistern or catchment system which typically sits above ground. The water is then pumped into the home by way of an electric pump and filtered through what ever form of filtration system the home owner chooses to install. If you wonder why you see so many metal roofs here on the Big Island, its because metal roofs are one of the best roofing materials to use with a catchment system
Is It Safe?
It can be very safe depending on the design of the system and the methods of filtration used. Trisha Macomber of the University of Hawaii has studied the use of catchment systems extensively and has written an excellent booklet on how to set up and operate catchment systems safely and effectively. You can order a copy or download the booklet here.
Many people on the Big Island prefer to use their catchment water for washing, bathing, etc, but not for cooking or drinking. The county has a number of stations around the island where people can stop and fill their own water bottles for use in cooking and drinking. OR ther are filtration systems that homeowners can install which have proven to be effective and safe in ensuring clean, potable drinking water.
Do You Get Enough Water?
In most areas on the east side of the Big Island – Water harvesting is usually not a problem due to the high levels of annual rainfall. In those times when we are in a drought situation, there are water services that will deliver water to help refill your catchment system. The prices are for such services vary but are usually quite reasonable.
Is the Catchment System Expensive?
You can spend as little or as much as you want to set up a functioning catchment system and depending on what your goal for its use will be will also be a factor in considering the overall expense. A basic setup can cost as little as a few thousand dollars, or an underground concrete system could run you quite a bit more. Depending on the type of filtration system you were to install would also be a factor to consider.
What does it take to maintain the system?
Maintaining the system is not expensive and only requires some basic maintenance procedures. It is important that the rooftop is kept clean and free of debris as well as the gutter system. Having a cover on the catchment tank also eliminates unwanted debris from falling into the tank. It is also a good idea to have someone who specializes in catchment systems to come out periodically to clean it. Most people do that every couple of years at a cost of few hundred dollars. If it needs a new lining or cover, those are also quite reasonably priced. If a filtration system is installed there is also regular maintenance and replacement of filters that needs to be done periodically as well. There are professionals that can assist with educating the homeowner as to how best to manage and maintain the system.
Most subdivisions in the district of Puna and the district of Kau use catchment systems. Here are a few that do not.
Of the ones on our subdivision page for Puna, the subdivisions with access to either county or private water systems are:
Hawaiian Beaches, Shores and Parks
A few lots (VERY few) in Nanawale and Hawaiian Paradise Park have access.
In Nanawale, lots along the main road (Nanawale Boulevard) and on Kehau up to the ballfield may be able to connect to county water.
In Hawaiian Paradise Park, lots along the highway and those on Paradise Drive up to the fire station may be able to connect to county water as well.