TBI Irrigation’s rainwater harvesting offers sustainable water supply solution

June 20, 2017
By: Michelle Ratcliffe
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Husband and wife entrepreneurs Niekia and Todd Botham have built a business that brings sustainable life to landscapes. Since 2010, their growing enterprise, TBI Irrigation, has offered quality designed custom irrigation installation.

Their passion for working with water has its roots in Todd’s childhood, assisting his father running water lines to irrigate their large farm in Central Australia before his water wisdom led him to head of irrigation at the award-winning Palm Meadows Golf Course, a regular host of the Australian Open.

With this experience in water management and a shared passion for sustainable water solutions the Bothams are rolling up their sleeves and making a profession out of water preservation. Now as part of TBI Irrigation’s sustainability initiative, they have introduced rainwater harvesting.

“We can significantly decrease our demand on the Sea to Sky drinking water supply by capturing rainwater for irrigation and toilets,” explained Niekia Botham.

By introducing these environmentally sound systems, these entrepreneurs are laying the groundwork for a growing green movement to capture, store and beneficially utilize rainwater.

Reaping the benefits of rainfall

For every 10mm of rain that falls on a 200-square-metre roof, a rainwater harvesting system can gather 1600+ litres of usable non-potable water.

“Rain is captured on the roof in gutters, moved through conveyance piping and is then pre-filtered before it enters the storage tank, either above ground or below ground, and then used for irrigation, toilets, or optimally both,” explained Botham, adding that the systems are designed so city water can still be accessed if necessary.

For homes wanting to incorporate this new service, existing irrigation systems can easily be re-plumbed to use rainwater from tanks.

This green infrastructure also slows down the water cycle, helping prevent flooding and erosion from overburdened storm drains and creates water independence.

Pulling the plug on water wastage

TBI Irrigation has always been a champion for responsible water practices like installing rain sensors on every system and using sprinklers with check valves that prevent water leakage, but of all their sustainable initiatives, rainwater harvesting for irrigation offers the biggest conservation opportunity and is especially well suited for use in a low volume drip irrigation system.

“Capturing rainwater for irrigation is by far the most effective way to decrease the demand on the local drinking water supply during the watering season,” said Botham. “The water used to irrigate lawns and gardens, as well as flush our toilets is all treated drinking water. It doesn’t make any sense.”

A rewarding part of their profession lies in education, empowering clients to take personal responsibility for water sustainability. Helping homeowners and businesses see rainwater as a valuable resource is part of this team’s core values.

“I think it’s important to have conversations that matter with our peers and clients, and I think it’s important that entrepreneurs use their voice in the marketplace to draw attention to environmental and social issues,” said Botham. “It’s always rewarding explaining the value of something innovative that people hadn’t thought about before and watching the light bulbs turn on.”

Looking ahead

Even in a place of plentiful precipitation like the Sea to Sky, the last two summers of water restrictions have been a wake-up call for many. Increased water demand from population and tourism growth, climate change and depleting snowpack have water consciousness rising.

“Anyone who has lived in the Sea To Sky for a decade or even less, and is paying attention, knows the glaciers are melting rapidly, even with large snowfalls like we saw this past season. The closing of Camp of Champions is providing us a small taste of the consequences of the path we’re on,” said Botham.

But she and her husband are optimistic. This rainwater harvesting extension to their profession empowers TBI Irrigation and their clients to make a positive impact on the future long-term sustainability of our region.

In her words, “I have come to believe that the value of your business is directly relative to the size of problem your business is solving, but in this case it is important we do our best to prevent drinking water shortages before it becomes a serious problem.”

Link to Whistler Question article: http://ow.ly/VJRnm