Thursday, April 16, 2009

The article below was featured in West Of, a weekly community paper covering Charleston's West of the Ashley community, a great community newspaper.

Local company uses rainwater to lessen environment impact and lower water bills
cloudstream water barrel water harvest west ashley west of greg watkins health timmeran Jeff Jarrard
(fom Left) Heath Timmerman, Jeff Jarrard, and Greg Watkins of Cloudstream Water Harvesting Group
By Lorne Chambers
A couple months ago Heath Timmerman was visiting his mother in Augusta, Ga., where there’s a drought even more severe than we have been experiencing here in the Lowcountry. Timmerman was slightly shocked and inspired to see his mother had placed buckets in the bathtub, where she was collecting water from showers to use for her flowers and plants.
This sparked an idea for Timmerman, who began to looking into the benefits of rain barrels and water harvesting. So he and two friends, Greg Watkins and Jeff Jarrard, began Cloudstream Water Harvesting Group, a water efficiency contractor, serving commercial, residential, and governmental sectors. They present water and cost saving ideas through the use of proven water engineering practices. The company designs, constructs, and maintains turnkey rain water and gray water harvesting systems for existing structures as well as new development.
Timmerman admits that when he first got the idea to make custom rain barrels for residential homes, he didn’t even realize all the benefits that came with capturing rain water from rooftops and reapplying it to water lawns and gardens. Not only does it help lower your water bill and thus help with water shortage, but it presents multiple benefits for the environment.
Rain barrels are designed to capture rainwater, which can be used to for just about any outdoor water need. According to Watkins, this is the next step in recycling and a key component to creating a sustainable lifestyle. Used to supplement tap water for irrigation as well as other uses, rain barrels have been found to save as much as half off of an average water bill. Along with cost savings, Timmerman points out that rain barrels are an affordable way for homeowners to reduce pollutants from storm water run off, such as nitrogen from fertilizers, which contaminant our fragile waterways and oceans.
According to Timmerman, as much as 30 percent of all residential water use is applied to irrigation or other outdoor uses. He explains that this not only takes a large amount of water from our drinking supply, but it also requires a great deal of energy at the pump station to get the water to your garden hose, just to pour it right into the ground.
Cloudstream uses 55-gallon A+ food barrels made from recycled plastics and saved from the landfill. “Capturing the water also helps with stopping runoff, which ultimately gets into our rivers, streams, and oceans,” explains Timmerman. The barrels catch the water before it hits the asphalt where it picks up nitrogen and other pollutants. “It keeps the water on the property.”
Because the barrels used by Cloudstream are recycled, Watkins says that some may contain minor scuffing and scratches, but that they do not effect the performance of the barrel. “These marks are just a reminder that we don't have to live in a ‘throw away society,’” says Watkins. “Our barrels are designed to handle thousands of gallons of rainwater in their lifetime and require little to no maintenance at all.” The barrels are fitted with industrial grade plumbing fittings: spigot, overflow spouts and caps and with reclaimed UV protected heavy duty shade cloth to keep mosquitoes and debris out.
As our population continues to grow so does the prolonged drought in our state, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural resources. Watkins emphasizes the importance of every citizen to do his or her part to conserve water. He says one of the easiest and least costly ways is harvesting rain with rain barrels. The technology is ancient and just a one-inch rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof can one produces 600 gallons of runoff. “It’s easy to see that with one normal rain event, the average home can capture enough rainfall to pay for the barrels in no time,” says Watkins. 

For more information on rain barrels or other water harvesting methods, log onto

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