This Earth Month, EcoRise is honoring community partners that positively contribute to improving environmental sustainability. Richard’s Rainwater is an innovative small business based in Dripping Springs, Texas, that aims to urge consumers to think of using rainwater as a viable solution to the global water crisis. The need for clean, safe, and cost-efficient water in ample supply ignited entrepreneur Richard Heinichen’s idea to repurpose rainwater.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), today over 844 million people globally lack access to clean water, which means they are at risk for serious water-related diseases. The WHO states that “climate change, increasing water scarcity, population growth, demographic changes, and urbanization already pose challenges for water supply systems. By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.”
This is a serious problem and we, and our community partner Richard’s Rainwater, believe there are solutions. One of them is rainwater collection, which is also known as rainwater harvesting. It involves collecting, filtering, storing, and using rainwater instead of groundwater for various purposes such as in home appliances, for irrigation, or in plumbing.
When aquifers run low, droughts occur, or when there is plenty of rain in an area, there are many benefits of rainwater collection, including:
- Accessing water in its purest form, free of pollutants and human-made contaminants
- Collection is low-maintenance and low-cost
- Cost savings on household or business utility bills
- Reduces stormwater runoff from a property, which minimizes pesticide, sediment, metal, and fertilizer contamination of surface water
- Multiple uses including irrigation, drinking water, and toilet water
In 1994, Heinichen started to educate his Texas community about the benefits of rainwater. He founded Tank Town, a company that installs rainwater collection systems for businesses and individuals throughout Texas Hill Country and teaches the rainwater collection process to do-it-yourself innovators. Heinichen simultaneously began bottling rainwater as a healthier alternative to other bottled and tap waters. In 2002, Richard’s Rainwater was the first company in the nation to receive licensing for the bottling of rainwater.
“Access to clean, safe water has been taken for granted and many people have not thought about the reality of bottling rainwater,” said company CEO Taylor O’Neil. “Richard’s Rainwater is triple-filtered after it is collected from the sky. The water is 100% free of pollutants, salts, minerals, and other natural and human-made contaminants because it never touches the ground.”
A passion for clean water and sustainability is the motivation that led Richard Heinichen to found Richard’s Rainwater, and that passion continues to guide the daily operations of the organization. The company is dedicated to keeping water local, by not distributing it more than 100 miles from the bottling source. They strive to continuously improve product packaging and operations to reduce negative environmental impact. Richard’s Rainwater also plans to expand access to rainwater by adding collection systems and fountains in stadiums, grocery stores, and other community venues in new markets.
“Whether your company is socially responsible by definition or more socially conscious through effort, I think it’s worth doing,” said O’Neil. “Any company’s triple-bottom line can be positively impacted by structuring a company with sustainable operations and values.”
EcoRise partners with corporations that have leading-edge sustainability practices and that believe in the power of student innovation. Richard’s Rainwater partners with EcoRise to gain fresh perspectives on cleanwater from younger generations and to inspire entrepreneurial students to operate from a base of sustainability. Both organizations strive to educate our communities about the reality of water on this planet.
Water is a prominent eco-theme in EcoRise curricula. EcoRise students learn water conservation and water purification principles and techniques in 23 standards-aligned lessons in our Sustainable Intelligence program alone. Through that program, students can also conduct a water audit of their school campus and apply for EcoRise grant funds to implement solutions to challenges they identify. In addition, our LEED Prep: Green Building Solutions for a Sustainable Future program explores water issues in depth and explains ways we can incorporate solutions into our built environment, including rainwater collection systems like that which is at the core of the Richard’s Rainwater business model.
How can you support rainwater in the fight for clean water for everyone?