Because water is so important to our every day lives, improving and maintaining water quality is our passion at Deck and Patio. In fact, we have a special division — Rainwater Harvesting Group — dedicated to installing rainwater collection systems that alleviate demand on municipal systems, reduce water bills and beautify and enhance landscaping and properties.
In addition to saving on water bills, fortunate residents in other parts of the United States, who have installed rainwater harvesting collection systems (alas not New York as of this writing), can take advantage of state and/or local rebates — the amount of the rebate being frequently determined by the type and size of the harvesting system installed (i.e., barrel collection or pump driven).
One city — Austin, TX — has an excellent rebate program. Granted, Texas has suffered through five straight years of droughts until last year’s spring rains were finally sufficient, so saving rainwater there is a high priority. However, other areas in the country, not so plagued by droughts, offer similar water rebates through their own state and local initiatives.
To find out how such programs might benefit Long Island, we spoke with Nick Menchyk, Assistant Professor (Urban Horticulture & Design) at SUNY Farmingdale.
“On the east coast, we typically get plenty of rain. However, any time we can harvest and use rainwater for irrigating our landscape — as opposed to pulling it from our aquifers — is going to be beneficial. Where government programs around the country exist, these programs have worked very well, and we should look at this at the local level here on Long Island,” says Professor Menchyk.
He adds that in California, for example, they offered rebates to remove turfgrass in favor of drought tolerant landscapes and that state funding ran out of money because so many people jumped at it.
“So any time you can encourage people to use that rain barrel or an in-ground system to collect rainwater is bound to be effective.”
While he does not consider himself an expert in rainwater harvesting and rain gardens, Professor Menchyk is convinced that it’s only a matter of time when the greater eastern seaboard will be looking to how we irrigate, as well as which plants work well in droughts and in rain gardens.
“Whether we like it or not, the future holds limitations in the amount of water we use. Rainwater harvesting is a way we can be responsible stewards of our environment now. We have such a unique area on Long Island. Along the coast, we are less than 11 feet from ground water. Any way we can capture water from impervious parts of our landscapes — and prevent it from leaving our property — is going to reduce the number of pollutants and nutrients getting into our lakes, streams, oceans and potentially into the ground water.”
A special thanks to Professor Menchyk. As an additional note: While harvesting rainwater is not a new idea, rebates for installing such systems are still very new. Deck and Patio’s research shows that only the following states, either through state or local municipalities, offer incentives for rainwater harvesting at this time: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington. and Washington D.C.