Roof selection for rainwater harvesting: Quantity and quality assessments in Spain

Ramon Farreny, Tito Morales-Pinzón, Albert Guisasola, Carlota Tayà, Joan Rieradevall, Xavier Gabarrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

216 Citations (Scopus)


Roofs are the first candidates for rainwater harvesting in urban areas. This research integrates quantitative and qualitative data of rooftop stormwater runoff in an urban Mediterranean-weather environment. The objective of this paper is to provide criteria for the roof selection in order to maximise the availability and quality of rainwater. Four roofs have been selected and monitored over a period of 2 years (2008-2010): three sloping roofs - clay tiles, metal sheet and polycarbonate plastic - and one flat gravel roof. The authors offer a model for the estimation of the runoff volume and the initial abstraction of each roof, and assess the physicochemical contamination of roof runoff. Great differences in the runoff coefficient (RC) are observed, depending mostly on the slope and the roughness of the roof. Thus, sloping smooth roofs (RC > 0.90) may harvest up to about 50% more rainwater than flat rough roofs (RC = 0.62). Physicochemical runoff quality appears to be generally better than the average quality found in the literature review (conductivity: 85.0 ± 10.0 μS/cm, total suspended solids: 5.98 ± 0.95. mg/L, total organic carbon: 11.6 ± 1.7. mg/L, pH: 7.59 ± 0.07. upH). However, statistically significant differences are found between sloping and flat rough roofs for some parameters (conductivity, total organic carbon, total carbonates system and ammonium), with the former presenting better quality in all parameters (except for ammonium). The results have an important significance for local governments and urban planners in the (re)design of buildings and cities from the perspective of sustainable rainwater management. The inclusion of criteria related to the roof's slope and roughness in city planning may be useful to promote rainwater as an alternative water supply while preventing flooding and water scarcity. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3245-3254
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • City ecodesign
  • Runoff coefficient
  • Stormwater runoff
  • Sustainable urbanism
  • Urban environment
  • Water management


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