From the skies to your water bottle


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”A new rainwater harvesting system at McMaster University’s Engineering Technology Building is dramatically reducing reliance on municipal systems as well as providing a valuable teaching tool for students.”]

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A new rainwater harvesting system at McMaster University is dramatically reducing reliance on municipal systems as well as providing a valuable teaching tool for students.

The sophisticated system collects rainfall from the rooftop of the newly constructed Engineering Technology Building, then filters and disinfects it for both drinking and non-drinking purposes throughout the building.

“In terms of treating drinking water, this is the first rain harvesting system of its kind in use at any institution across the country,” said Tony Cupido, assistant vice president of Facility Services. “Even in a water-rich province, the costs of water are on the rise in addition to issues related to groundwater depletion and surface water contamination. This system is both valuable in terms of conservation, sustainability and education.”

Rainwater harvesting has translated into a 70 – 90 per cent reduction in potable water requirements from the municipal system, says Cupido, who is also completing his PhD in civil engineering. His research focuses on the quality of rainwater being collected on the building's roof.

The system is also designed to train engineering students and provide research opportunities. Collection pipes, which carry water from the rooftop, have remained exposed so students can learn leading edge approaches to environmental design. The mechanical room of the building was designed to become a prime teaching location. Engineering students will have the opportunity to examine the systems, take them apart, analyze the water and conduct research.

“Tony's achievement with this project demonstrates the leadership role engineers can play in building a sustainable society, something the Faculty has committed to pursuing,” said David Wilkinson, dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “We have always had a strong focus on providing our students with the best possible facilities and this system will offer remarkable new opportunities to learn, particularly in relation to environmental concerns.”


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