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A review of rainwater harvesting in the UK

Alan Fewkes (School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 25 May 2012



The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of the technology, design and application of rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems in a UK context and identify areas of research and development.


A comprehensive range of literature from 1978‐2010 is reviewed and divided into the following sections: history, application in developed countries, benefits of RWH, system categories and components, storage capacity, rainwater quality and factors influencing the use of RWH systems.


This paper provides a useful source of information relating to the potential benefits of RWH systems, different types of system and components used to supply non potable water. To ensure the potential of RWH systems in the UK is realized, an integrated approach to their application is required. This may improve the financial viability of these systems and sustainability credentials but requires further research.

Research limitations/implications

It is not an exhaustive list of publications but attempts to draw on major sources of literature which catalogue the development and design of RWH systems. Current sources of literature are also identified which identify various factors influencing the future development and application of rainwater systems.

Practical implications

The paper provides practitioners with an initial basis for evaluating or undertaking the initial design of RWH systems.


The study provides historical context for the recent and ongoing development of RWH. In particular areas of further research and development are identified to ensure the potential of RWH systems are realized in the future.



Fewkes, A. (2012), "A review of rainwater harvesting in the UK", Structural Survey, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 174-194.



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