How will your garden grow? Transition Salt Spring launches Rainwater Harvesting Rebate pilot

Growing things need water, and water requires a source. If it's from a well, we're thinking of you. We're Transition Salt Spring, and we are proud to be offering the Rainwater Harvesting Rebate for non-potable water for folks on wells.

With our longer, drier summers, many of the aquifers we rely on are under increasing stress. Harvesting rainwater from our rooftops for irrigation purposes helps retain more of that valuable well water.

Our Climate Action Plan 2.0, (https://transitionsaltspring.com/climate-action-plan-2-0/) Chapter 8 “Climate Action for Freshwater Ecosystems,” calls for the Implementation of wide-scale rainwater harvesting and enhanced water conservation. Together with forest retention, this will help maintain water levels during our increasingly hot and dry summer months, reduce sedimentation, and decrease the number and severity of bacterial or algal incidents.

As a step towards making these recommendations reality, our new Climate Action Coach program launched a Rainwater Harvesting Rebate on October 1st.

Salt Spring Island property owners may be eligible for $250 for a cistern with a capacity of at least 520 US Gallons or $500 for a cistern of at least 1040 US Gallons. The tanks must be potable water certified (most are) even though they’re for non-potable purposes since the harvested water could be used to grow food.

The Rainwater Harvesting Rebate is a pilot with funding proudly provided by the Capital Regional District (CRD). Given the response we’ve received already, demand from property owners on wells will likely be high. We're already hearing from others about the need for a similar program for those on community water supply systems from both groundwater and surface sources.

Incentives will likely go quickly so we encourage those who are considering installing a system to begin planning now.

Salt Spring’s 11,000+ residents and thousands of visitors currently rely on four relatively shallow lakes and groundwater reserves in fractured bedrock systems as drinking water sources. Annual water recharge to all island sources comes entirely from winter rain. Salt Spring's average yearly total rainfall remains approximately 900mm per year, but rainfall patterns have changed.

We're seeing more intense but less frequent rainfall events, which impacts groundwater recharge, lake recharge, streamflow, vegetation, fish and animal population health, as well as physical sustainability features like slope stability and erosion of topsoil.

Your garden's plants will love rainwater—it's virtually mineral-free, it's soft and when stored in a tank, it's the perfect temperature for plants. While rainwater storage systems that are used for drinking water are not eligible under this pilot program, certain non-potable indoor purposes such as toilets, urinals and clothes washing are eligible. But, there are requirements to follow to pipe harvested rainwater into a building, and a permit would be required from the CRD for indoor uses of non-potable stored rain water. Likewise, with the shape or height of the cistern you plan to install.

Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance has created a great informative guide, "Non-Potable Rainwater Harvesting - Best Practices", which is a must-read for anyone thinking of installing a rainwater harvesting system.

Thanks to SSWIPA for their dedicated work over the years which has enabled Transition Salt Spring to offer this pilot program with the support of the CRD.

Our climate is changing. Each of us can take small and even some big steps to conserve and protect the fragile systems that sustain us. We encourage you to make rainwater harvesting one of your steps!

If you're on a well, and once you have done some initial planning, complete our pre-approval application. We look forward to receiving your application for the One Cool Island Rainwater Harvesting Rebate!

October 6, 2021 3:22 PM

  • Pierre Frisch says:

    Very good initiative. But Canada is metric could you please use regular units. Thank you

  • Transition Salt Spring says:

    Hi Pierre,
    To add to the confusion tanks are also listed in Imperial Gallons, very few are listed in metric amounts. When ordering a tank one needs to be specific about which volume measurement type they are using, most commonly one will be speaking in gallons (US or Imperial). Our rebate is using US gallons for size of tanks because that's how they'd be ordered, that's the lingo the suppliers and manufacturers use.

  • Transition Salt Spring says:

    Anyone interested in the Rainwater Harvesting Rebate, or the Heat Pump Rebate, should know that the Transition Salt Spring Enterprise Coop offers low-interest Green Loans. "We provide low-interest financing and related mentoring support to projects and enterprises on Salt Spring Island that advance community objectives such as increased community resilience, food security, community and ecosystem health, and climate change adaptation and mitigation." Rainwater Harvesting and Heat Pumps would apply. So if you need some financial assistance to undertake one, or both, of these initiatives, go to: https://www.transitionsaltspringenterprisecooperative.com/

  • KC says:

    Preapproval application link is not available ?