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Water: Resource, not Waste

Water is the most precious resource on the planet.  Water rationing and efficiency has been an important part of life since ancient civilizations.  Even Romans used rain barrels, rationed, and charted their daily water use thousands of years ago.  So why is it that we, as Americans, view water so differently?  Cost.  No where in the world is water as cheap as it is in the United States, and not surprisingly that leads us to be the largest consumer of water in the world.    A significant part of green building, that is rarely associated with the term, is storm water runoff.  Americans view storm water as waste, whereas the rest of the world views it as an opportunity to acquire a resource. The way we currently deal with storm water runoff has many problems, for both our infrastructure and nature.  Our current ways need to change, which can have a positive impact on the environment and your wallet.  On the residential side, a 1″ rainfall on a home with a 3000 sq. ft. roof, 5000 sq. ft. lawn, and 2000 sq. ft driveway produces 3800 gallons of storm water runoff.  Now think about all the other homes on your street doing the same thing.  Do you know where that water goes?  The average consumer has no idea where their water comes from or where the waste flows.  Often both raw sewage and storm water end up at the same facility, which overtaxes the infrastructure.  In the Chicagoland area there are over a million residences.  Now add in the urban scenario:  In a dense urban area, like Chicago, a 1″ rain...