The Mystery of the White Roofs in the Bermuda Triangle

When you think of Bermuda, a couple of things will probably pop into your head, long, golden beaches and the infamous ‘triangle’.

However, if you’ve ever visited the island, there’s something even more interesting you might have noticed, and that’s the fact that every roof is white.

But why?

Well, with it being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, these roofs actually help keep the population alive.

Despite being a tropical paradise, Bermuda has no real source of fresh water, such as rivers or lakes.

So to counteract this, these white, terraced roofs, which were first designed back in the 17th century, collect rainwater.

Once it hits the limestone roof, which is heavy enough to withstand hurricanes and helps keep the house cool, the water is then funneled into underground cisterns that serve as islanders’ primary source of freshwater.

So vital is it, every new house is mandated by law to include eight gallons of rain barrel storage per square foot of roof space.

The roofs were originally white due to the use of lime mortar, but are still painted white as this reflects ultra-violet light and helps purify the rainwater, according to the BBC.

In a video from the Rare Earth channel about the interesting method of water collection, the group explains that ‘virtually any house of building’ has the whitewashed roof.

Speaking to Atlas Obscura, Guilden Gilbert, who has lived in Bermuda all of his life, said: “Bermuda’s roofs last for generations. The house I grew up in was 95 years old, still had the original roof.

“The house next door was 200 years old, still had the original roof.”

And children are taught early on about the importance of not wasting water.

Mr Gilbert said: “Bermudian kids are always taught about conservation and the Bermuda Roofs from a young age.

“We were raised to be cognizant of how much water was in the tank. We had to make it last.”

Over the past few years, however, with the advent of tourism, other sources of water have had to be found in order to meet demand.

While the ingenious roofing system provides enough water for residents, desalination plants, which use reverse osmosis to make fresh water, and groundwater lenses, which is when fresh water floats on top of denser saltwater, are now also used.

Large trucks also deliver water to households that are in need of it.

But despite the help available, residents are keenly aware of not using too much water at once.

Shaun Lavis grew up in the United Kingdom, but now lives in Bermuda.

He says: “I’ve got a little part of my brain that’s always aware of the tank level. “Pretty healthy at the moment, we’ve had good weather.”

Though baths aren’t quite as common as they are back in Blighty.

“Probably a quarterly event, if there’s been a good rain. But it’s somewhat frowned upon,” he added.

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