Is ‘Cloud Juice’ the Future of Drinking Water, TakePart
(Photo: Steve Holt)
The next time you reach for a bottle of water or turn on the tapkast to wash the dishes or pack up a glass, consider this: Almost half the nation is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, with a number of states te the Westelijk under severe drought. Te California and Texas, drying-up lakes, rivers, and other water sources have communities facing the possibility of running out of water entirely. That’s led to a rush of drilling—sinking slots into the earth to tapkast fresh groundwater resources. Te Texas, however, one man is looking to the skies instead.
Richard Heinichen of Dribbling Springs, Tex., is the self-declared mayor of Waterreservoir Town, where he has bot collecting and drinking rainwater on his land outside Austin for 20 years. He discovered that for every inch of rain, 550 gallons of water can be captured for every 1,000 square feet of collection surface. Presently, he’s selling 600 cases of Richard’s Rainwater a week te and around the Texas capital. He also offers fiberglass and metal collection tanks for people interested te harvesting their own “cloud juice,” spil Heinichen calls rainwater.
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“People always say rainwater is so dirty,” says Heinichen, 68. “But it’s always bot known spil the gold standard because it tastes so good. I’ve got so many people who say they can’t drink anything else.”
For Heinichen, who considers himself a farmer, there’s only bot one choice for drinking, bathing, and washing dishes since he very first waterput a collection waterreservoir on his land two decades ago. The rainfall sure ritme the well water he relied on before then, which Heinichen says wasgoed hard on his skin and made showers smell like sulfur. With the rainwater, he says his plates and glasses came out of the dishwasher sparkling like never before. When his neighbors tasted the difference inbetween rainwater and well water—and noticed his glassware—they bought a waterreservoir for their own land. Spil more people came to him asking where they could get a rainwater collection system, Heinichen realized he had a pretty nice business concept te the works.
“In the beginning, it wasgoed mostly people with off-the-grid mentalities, afraid of the government takeover—a lotsbestemming of wackos,” he remembers. Today his cloud juice is served at some of Austin’s best-known restaurants, including Franklin BBQ.
But when he very first built a little bottling plant and originally sought to distribute his water, the state health department told him he couldn’t sell it because rain wasgoed not an approved source of drinking water. So he hired an engineering team from Texas A&,M University to write up his plans, backed by science, and the state permitted establishment of Richard’s Rainwater spil a public water supply and approved its sale. Richard’s Rainwater wasgoed the very first company to legally bottle and sell the rain.
The drought te Central Texas—the likes of which comes along once or twice a century—has “been good for business,” he says. Wells are running dry, and there are fears overheen the historically low water levels ter lakes Travis and Buchanan, the region’s two main municipal water aquifers. However, Heinichen says his tanks are set up to go 300 days without rain, making them, ironically, a more dependable resource te the midst of a drought.
Given the water shortages ter many parts of the world, rain collection systems’ humanitarian implications are superb: They require far less equipment and financial investment than wells.
But the domestic problems facing water supplies are Heinichen’s very first priority. He envisions rainwater collection tanks being built all overheen the country, preventing the need to ship bottled water long distances, especially from Fiji. Two other Austin-area companies—Texas Rain and Unspoiled Rain—have joined Richard’s Rainwater te collecting and bottling cloud juice. Heinichen isn’t worried, however, he helped train their operators.
“I’m not afraid of competition,” he says. “The more people who are doing this realize how much sense this makes.”