Monday, July 18, 2011

Catching Your Own Drinking Water

Here is an interesting little story out of Seattle. I did not know that King County, in which Seattle resides, requires you to purchase your drinking water from the city. This requirement falls under a code administered by the health board. As the code is currently written, an individual can capture rain water to be used for drinking purposes only to supplement the water supplied by King County utilities. I guess if I had really thought about this a government that requires you purchase (and taxed) a necessity isn’t really all that surprising. And when you throw in a liberal city like Seattle, it continues to make sense that purchasing a necessity through a government entity is going to happen.

There are some changes afoot however. Recently, there was a proposal to allow individuals to capture rainwater as their primary source of drinking water. Are there stipulations? Of course there are stipulations, you silly people.

-A rainwater catchment system that serves as the only source of drinking water for a single family residence and that complies with each of the following conditions:

--The health officer finds that requiring connection of the plumbing system to an approved public water source or to an approved private well would cause undue hardship.

--Application for a rainwater catchment system source approval shall be submitted for review on forms provided by the health officer. The applicant shall pay to the health officer the rainwater catchment system review fee as specified in the fee schedule, payable after completion of the application review.

--Application for a rainwater catchment system source approval shall be prepared by any one or more of the following:

---a professional engineer authorized under a current, valid license to practice in Washington state;
---an environmental health professional holding a current, valid registration from either the Washington Environmental Association or the National Environmental Health Association;
---a King County licensed water system designer holding a current, valid license to design water systems in King County; and
---a rainwater designer holding a current, valid accreditation from the American Rainwater Catchment System Association. (Source: Seattle PI)

The list of requirements goes on for several pages and is filled with the typical legal gobbledygook that will bore you to tears. But the bottom line is that you cannot have a sewer hook up and you must be on a septic system if you wish to capture rainwater and use it as your sole source of drinking water. So even if you want to live off the grid, the county is still going to get its money because the county health department has to approve a system that won’t touch the county’s system. But they do it for your own good of course because you are not smart enough to take care of yourself.

The list of restrictions is going to make this nearly impossible for anyone but the truly hardy and far off the grid homesteaders. King County, far and away the most populous county in Washington isn’t exactly brimming with homesteaders and those living off the grid. Based on the stipulations, folks living within a sewer system or a well will not be able to take advantage of this change in the code.

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