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July 10, 2013 | Tom Ballard

Denis Rochat experiences a real calling when one door closes

Rainwater Resources Logo_2013-02(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a two-part series about local entrepreneur Denis Rochat and his passion for rainwater harvesting.)

Denis Rochat describes 2008 as “a real turning point for us,” referring to himself, his wife, and their nine children.

In January 2008, he says they “couldn’t be looking better,” whereas by August, “we couldn’t be looking worse.” The change was the economic downturn and its impact of home construction.

Yet, the President of Rainwater Resources is a strong believer in the saying about one door closing while another opens. Today, the provider of “perfect water in every faucet” could not be more passionate or happier with his second endeavor that emerged as a result of the housing crash.

Rochat’s original company, Perfect Water, still installs water conditioning and purification systems in high-end, custom homes, but he has added a second company – Rainwater Resources – where he champions the preservation of rainwater, something he calls our “national liquid asset.”

Rochat is a native East Tennessean who founded Perfect Water, one of his two companies, in 1997. The creation of the company followed a 15-year career in water, including five in Ohio as a Branch Manager for one company and Sales Manager for another.

“I have devoted most of the last 30 years to water conditioning and purification sales,” Rochat explains, adding that “the idea of rainwater harvesting came into my head” one night as he was trying to determine a new opportunity to pursue as a result of the housing market downturn.

“Generally, water failing out of the sky is great water,” he said. “Almost every home has enough water hitting the roof to supply its needs.”

For Rochat, developing a business plan and selling the concept “really turned me on.” It was also about being responsible in the use of our resources.

Early in our interview, Rochat noted the irony about rainwater that hits the roof of his home, flowing into the French Broad River and then the Tennessee River before the utility captures the water, treats it, and returns it to him as a customer.

This revelation caused Rochat to make a commitment in October 2010 “to learn everything I could about rainwater monitoring.” He devoted considerable time to reading and attending meetings and conferences. Rochat’s initial focus was on ways to save high-end homeowners on their irrigation costs, but he soon had another revelation or “wake-up call,” as he describes it.

On a fact-finding trip to Santa Monica, CA, he learned about new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that will have a dramatic impact on developers.

“By 2014, if anything over an acre is disturbed, you must have a stormwater containment or reduction of flow plan in place forever,” Rochat said.

He saw a real opportunity in a state that was not known for embracing rainwater harvesting. “Among eight states in the South, we in Tennessee are just beginning residential and commercial harvesting,” Rochat said.

In the second article in this series, we will explore how Rochat is approaching the opportunity.