Water is expensive. It’s a necessity. It’s a commodity. And it falls right out of the sky.

Mark Hazen and Michael Helms realized this, and realized that water shortages can be a serious problem and expense to homeowners, and have worked for nearly the past year to establish The Rain Exchange.

The Rain Exchange installs a system to catches the rainwater that falls on a homeowner’s home or property, and stores that water in an underground storage tank for later use.

“We’re starting to see that water is getting more and more expensive, and we have customers who spend $800-900 per month on their water bill,” Hazen said, adding that this system could save 60-65 percent of that water usage.

The way the system works is simple, The Rain Exchange will install downspouts on the house’s gutters, collecting all runoff rainwater from the roof and diverting it into a buried storage tank.

Connected to that storage tank is a pump, which allows that water to be used in a number of ways, depending on what the homeowner would like to use it for.

Mainly the water is used for irrigation, washing cars, and general outdoor water use, but it can also be piped back into the home and used in toilets and washing machines, and if a special filter or purification system is installed, could even be used as drinking water.

Helms and Hazen estimate that the cost of installing the system can be made back by savings in as little as two to three years.

The system is completely hidden from sight, save for two manhole cover-like lids for the tank and the pump.

According to Hazen, an average, 2,300 square-foot house, with Mint Hill’s average rainfall, can catch around 64,000 gallons of water from the roof each year, enough to fill four swimming pools, and all from water that normally runs down the street and into the storm drain.

One five to six-hour rainstorm could fill a 3-4,000 gallon tank.

“You’d be surprised what comes off a roof,” said Helms, “I’ve got six-inch gutters on my house, and it looks like a firehose coming out of there when we have a good rain.”

Water saving systems like this are popular in dryer parts of the country, mainly in the West and Southwest, but the idea has yet to catch on in this area, and The Rain Exchange is currently the only company installing systems like this for private homeowners in the Charlotte area.

The Rain Exchange website, therainexchange.com, features a calculator, where a homeowner can enter the square footage of their home and calculate how much water they could possibly save.

The system can also be modified for smaller properties like apartments and condos, and types of water tanks vary, including some that don’t have to be buried.

Hazen and Helms have big plans for the company, and one of their long term goals is to be able to install similar systems in lesser developed parts of the world, helping to supply and save water to people that need it.

For more information, visit www.therainexchange.com or call 704-846-9890.