Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rain Catchers

[Maryanne]Bermuda is waaaay distant from any other land source, so historically it has had to be very self sufficient. I doubt that it could achieve that full self sufficiency now without a regular supply of cargo ships and planes. But they may well be doing a good job of it when it comes to water.

There are no springs to use as a water supply, and if you dig a well, by the time you are down to the water table, you've reached sea water (almost every time). So here in Bermuda, they have to catch the rain water, and they've done this since they arrived in 1609.

This has led to a very distinctive architecture of their roofs. Nealy every roof (not just on the houses, but almost any structure) has several catching stone lips that wind a path of rain water around the roof and into a vertical gutter, which drops it down into a water holder (normally the basement). I've yet to find out how they purify the water of any dust etc, but I assume they must do somehow.

Elsewhere, just to stop the water splashing over the windows and doorways, a simple sloped roof would direct the water to the eves where a horizontal gutter would direct it to a vertical gutter, and in some cases down into a water barrel (normally for watering the garden). But here, the roofs are stone. I guess slate and alternative roofing materials were scarce(?), so the roof top view of Bermuda is just as interesting as every other aspect of this time capsule.

I'm particularly impressed since we've only just had our (material) water catcher made and working for the last few weeks aboard Footprint.

I guess nowadays drinking water can be produced in desalination plants, slate and other materials can be imported, but even the newer homes continue to be built with the same very Bermudian roof tops - pretty AND functional, I love it.


Mommy Dearest said...

These houses all look like they have snow-covered roofs. Charming!

Jay said...

Bermuda roofs are painted with a lime wash (that's why they're white)... which makes the water slightly alkaline, thus preventing bacteria from growing in our tanks. The grit simply settles to the bottom and we generally clean our tanks every 5 to 10 years.