An open letter to Pres. Biden.
  1. United States
  2. Letter

An Open Letter

To: Pres. Biden

From: A verified voter in Long Beach, CA

May 31

I am writing to urge your administration to explore implementing rainwater harvesting mandates for any new housing construction that utilizes federal funding and is located in regions of the United States facing water stress and scarcity. As the impacts of climate change intensify, with rising temperatures and more frequent droughts, it is imperative that we prioritize water conservation and explore alternative local water sources wherever possible. Specifically, I propose that for any housing developments, whether single-family homes or multi-unit dwellings, that are built using federal grants, loans, or other financial assistance, there should be a requirement to incorporate rainwater capture and storage systems if the project is situated in an area that relies heavily on groundwater pumping or drawing from overtaxed surface water sources like rivers. The City of Flagstaff, Arizona has taken a pioneering step in this direction through its Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance (No. 2012-03). This ordinance mandates that new non-residential and multi-family developments install active rainwater harvesting systems with storage tanks sized to capture at least 1 inch of rainfall from roof areas or meet annual landscaping needs. For new single-family homes, passive techniques like directing runoff to landscaped areas are required. Rainwater harvesting is a time-tested technique that can significantly reduce demand on conventional municipal water supplies by utilizing captured precipitation for non-potable uses such as landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, and potentially even potable needs with proper treatment. This practice is already being mandated in some municipalities like Flagstaff with laudable results in terms of water savings. By tying rainwater harvesting requirements to federal housing funds, it would incentivize developers to adopt these sustainable practices in the very regions where water security should be a top priority. Not only would it promote conservation, but it could also spur job growth in the rainwater system installation and maintenance sectors. I understand there would need to be reasonable exceptions for areas with extremely low annual rainfall. However, for the sun-drenched cities of the Southwest, Florida, and other parched locales, this policy could pay tremendous dividends in terms of easing the strain on dwindling water resources that are essential for human health, economic prosperity, and environmental preservation. Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. I welcome any opportunity to further discuss mechanisms for implementing such a requirement through existing federal housing programs or new legislative avenues. Water scarcity is a looming crisis, and we must pursue innovative solutions like those pioneered in Flagstaff to secure sustainable sources for our communities.

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