Suitability comparison of rainwater harvesting and piped water systems in the Dominican Republic

Ryan M. Biehl



Rainwater harvesting (RWH) has a long history and has been supported as an appropriate technology and relatively cheap source of domestic water supply. This study compares the suitability of RWH and piped water systems in three rural Dominican communities seeking to improve their water systems. Ethnographic methods considering the views of residents and feasibility and cost analysis of the options were used to conclude that RWH is not a feasible or cost-effective solution for domestic water needs of all households in the communities studied. RWH investment is best left to individual households that can implement informal RWH with incremental increases in storage volume. Piped water distribution (PWD) systems perceived as too large or expensive to implement have much lower capital costs and are more supported by residents as a solution because they provide large quantities of water needed to maintain water services beyond mere survival levels.