Rainwater: my little unloved friend…
By “Pierre L’écoleau
Rainwater is a leading alternative resource, available and free of charge.
Anyone who has the means to do so can recover and use it as they wish, and while they’re at it, make the most of its qualitative potential for multiple domestic uses.
Except that in France, the domestic use of rainwater is systematically devalued or even denigrated, when it is not presented as a potential health risk, which translates into a regulatory framework that is as fussy as it is restrictive, and which makes a powerful contribution to limiting the use of rainwater inside the home!
Why do we maintain such an atmosphere in France, when in Belgium, for example, every new build is required to install a rainwater harvesting tank?
It’s true that every M3 of rainwater used by a private individual is one M3 less of drinking water that won’t be sold by the multinational water companies, and therefore represents a loss of earnings, except in the case of public distribution networks, which are not profit-seeking.
From a sanitary point of view, the French Ministry of Health has always fought to prevent “non-potable” water from entering the home, not hesitating to describe extravagant scenarios in which, for example, poor toddlers are poisoned after drinking water from the toilet bowl!
Certainly, there are precautions to be taken to avoid any contact between non-potable water and the indoor pipes that supply us from the public drinking water distribution network. But there are easy solutions to this simply technical problem.
There remains the fundamental question of how the health authorities view and consider these alternative resources, considering that “only” public distribution water is healthy and safe, which is far from being the case, and that all other water is immediately considered non-compliant, non-drinkable and dangerous!
This is pure intellectual hypocrisy, since we mustn’t forget that public distribution water, before being pumped, potabilized and distributed, was not potable either!
By treating the user as a notorious incompetent, they give no credence either to the real qualitative potential of rainwater (which is healthier than most terrestrial waters) or to the various technical and conceptual possibilities that exist today, enabling a minimally informed and aware user to “produce” high quality water himself.
They also fail to take into account the health impact of chlorinated water, as well as the impact of the multitude of pollutants of all kinds found in these waters, especially when combined – what scientists call the “cocktail effect”!
Domestic rainwater is non-chlorinated, non-calcareous, much less contaminated with various pollutants than terrestrial water, and above all uncontaminated by a multitude of drug residues.
The various pieces of legislation that have appeared since 2008 in the wake of the new Water Act contain not only legal contradictions, but also conceptual aberrations that are unacceptable to the individual user, and infringements on individual freedom and privacy.
Already, the drafters (Ministries of Health and Ecology) have shown their dishonesty (or legal incompetence?) by amalgamating the constraints and obligations applicable to public buildings with those reasonably applicable to private individuals.
It is therefore important to know that :
* some of these texts are simply not legally applicable,
* that the main decree of August 21, 2008 “only” concerns the use of non-potable (untreated or partially treated) rainwater in the home, excluding from its scope the use of potabilized rainwater, which nobody ever mentions!
This is very important, and demonstrates the widespread misinformation in France when we hear or read everywhere that French citizens are “forbidden” to shower in rainwater, or worse, to drink it!
On the one hand, it is technically possible for an individual to purify his or her own rainwater, which means that its use falls completely outside the scope of these regulations (of course, no one will tell you that!). On the other hand, the individual user does what he or she wants at home, and the State or the Ministry has no business imposing or prohibiting a particular food quality for what he or she consumes voluntarily and from his or her own production!
So it’s imperative to be very vigilant about what you read or hear on these subjects, and also to know that whatever the health authorities claim, it’s even quite legally possible to be entirely self-sufficient in rainwater for an individual who’s a bit alert and willing!
Rainwater: it’s beautiful, it’s good, it’s soft and light.
Let’s make the most of it!
I therefore invite all associations and local authorities to contact me for further information if needed, or better still, to invite me to lead a conference or public debate on this topic in order to break through the prevailing misinformation!
Committed community activist
Pro specialized in rainwater
Water & Sanitation Regulatory Consultant
asso [A] ec-eau-logis.info
www.ec-eau-logis.info (non-commercial info site)