Because of the torrential downpours and high tides in early February, the pumps quit and the City of Seattle had to go on "bypass" and dump who-knows-how-many tonnes of raw sewage directly into Puget Sound. I shudder because I am a part of the problem-it's my shit, piss and the rain run-off from my property along the the other hundreds of thousands inhabiting out beautiful green city.
I have used rain barrels at my house for the past decade or so, but had wanted to install heavier duty rain cisterns for a while. But it took this year's sewage plant fiasco to make me commit. Thus, this week. the nice folks at Monsoon Rain Gardens came and installed one Bushman Slimline 265 gallon cistern and one Bushman 205 gallon round cistern in my back yard.
A third, 130 gallon cistern will be installed in the side yard near the front as soon as I get the gutter guy out to do some gutter repairs. Meanwhile, the Seattle Conservation Corps rain barrels will remain in use, but in different parts of the yard. I will be pumping water from the big guys to the little ones.
Although many people think of cisterns -and rain barrels for that matter- to be merely devices in which you save water for use in the dry months of the summer, they actually do something more: they slow down the flow into the City Sewer System during heavy storms as they are holding tanks. This works whether you pipe the cistern overflow run-off directly into the sewer lines or if you pipe the overflow runoff into a French drain and then subsequently out into your garden soil. Either way, it can give some relief.
( FYI in Seattle, our system is a combined one that accepts both black-water and grey-water)
I know I am only one household and can only install so many cisterns and that 500 gallons is but a drop in a city this size. But imagine if every house did this. That would be a lot of water! You can't control Mother Nature, but you can choose to try to inflict less damage on her. She's the only Mother Earth we will ever have.