Rainwater harvesting in Antarctica
Water conservation is a significant energy saving operation at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Rothera Base. Unlike the UK the energy required to produce and dispose of water is met by BAS directly. The production of fresh water is done via reverse osmosis, this is an electrically powered system resulting in a higher load on the station diesel generators. Last year 4,472 cubic metres of fresh water was produced.
To reduce the demand for the energy intense fresh water, sea water is used to flush the majority of toilets and urines on station. But sea water is not of a high enough quality to be used for anything else mainly due to the salt content. For this reason rain water / snow melt has been installed at the main sleeping accommodation building at Rothera, Admirals house.
The collection area is limited to approximately 20% of the available roof area, this is due to the large volumes of snow that accumulates and subsequently melts. The water is fed into three large 3000 litre tanks for storage it is then treated via ultra violet process and is delivered to the laundry for use in the washing machines. The system supplied 5,600 litres to the laundry in 2010.
The system was installed when the building was completed in 2001.