I heard recently that the introduction of rainwater harvesting systems into residential development isn’t always straightforward and that the industry and building control are still learning lessons. It was discovered in one particular development that the residents had been unknowingly drinking rainwater for about six months before it was noticed. Presumably after a particularly heavy rainfall washed the dirt from the roof. The rainwater distribution pipework had been fed to the developments taps instead of the toilets, and presumably potable water was going to flush the toilets instead. No illness has been reported and the problem is now fixed.
Because of this I understand that the NHBC have asked developers to identify the rainwater distribution pipework with tags every 500mm along its length and they now want to inspect the pipework prior to second fixing, so that they can see where the distribution pipework is going.
This is an interesting example of where it takes a while for the industry to develop a workable approach to changes in the design of services, and further evidence of the lack of sufficient supervision of subcontractors on our building sites.
I wish I could say that this could never happen again, but I am pretty sure that it will, and that someone will get ill at some point and bring an action against a developer with consequences for the rainwater harvesting industry. Wouldn’t it be better if the industry came up with a better approach involving different coloured pipework, for example, to make this type of problem less likely?