No, rainwater is not some kind of crop. However, the harvesting of rainwater can be one of the most valuable things for human beings. While Earth itself is majority water, most of that water is not usable for human consumption, unless you plan on building a plethora of desalination plants.
Most of the world’s freshwater is locked up in glaciers and ice sheets. Rivers and lakes serve as sources of freshwater. And there is one more source, the weather. In particular, the rain. Human beings have been capturing and using the rain as a water resource for thousands of years. In times when municipal water systems were not available, and water was needed, wherever it rained, that rain could be a source of water for drinking, washing up, irrigation, or in the case of the video below, fountains.
In a world where water is becoming more valuable than ever, rain water capturing still proves to be a beneficial sources of water. In many places, rain that would have simply become storm water runoff is put to good use in ponds and fountains.
Harvesting the rain is often used as a source of drinking water. In Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta, there is salt water among the ground water. In a land where rainfall is plentiful, rainwater harvesting is a major source of water.
In places with a decent water supply, rainwater can be a supplement to the existing water supply. It can also be a set-aside in the event that a drought takes place. And in that case, captured rainwater is beneficial in agriculture, as it serves as an irrigation source. Rainwater is often used to recharge the groundwater in some areas. For developing nations, harvesting rainwater is often seen as a solution for combating a scarcity of potable water. In many places, there is plenty of water, but much of it is not drinkable.
Capturing rainwater is nothing complicated. It can be done through simple means. It is often collected in vessels, from rooftops, and it can be harvested from rivers or reservoirs. It is simple, but it will have an impact on the water supply world wide. With more technological innovations, this form of capturing water for human consumption could play a major role in the future. Of course, it has to be conducted the right way. In many places, rainwater is collected from rooftops. There isn’t a guarantee that such water is safe. Birds often land there, and defecate in many cases.
Consider this. Many geopolitical issues in the world are related to the water supply. Water is a major issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Water rights are a major issue in the Middle East. Considering the desert geography the region this will continue to play a role in geopolitics. Rainwater is not equal everywhere. Many places have low rainfall totals. Technological innovations can often be a response to bridge the gap between humans and the environments they live in. It will not be just a matter of harvesting rainwater. It will also be about where that rainwater will go. In theory, rainwater can be collected in one place, and sent to another place. In fact, this is already being done in several places. In California, much of the population lives in areas that get rainfall totals that qualify it as semiarid or desert. The California Aqueduct collects water from the Sierra Nevadas, and through an elaborate network of canals, pipes, and tunnels, that water id distributed to places such as southern California. Aqueducts have been used to distribute water for ages. It was done in the Roman Empire. It can be done today, with even more advanced technology than in antiquity. And even in the Middle East, rainwater can be harvested from high elevation areas. Turkey and Iran have some of the rainiest places in the Middle East. Lebanon has high elevation regions where snowfall is commonplace.
However, water issues go beyond California. How will geopolitics play a role in water distribution, if measures such as distributing collected rainwater take place? Will there be peace as a result? Or will the existing geopolitical problems hinder such solutions? And will it be enough? Where will it come from? Many questions, no easy answers. In the present, rainwater harvesting still has its benefits locally.