Collecting and reusing rainwater isn’t just good for the environment. It could also be good for your pocketbook.
Recycling rainwater can cut down on your monthly water bill by reducing excess waste and depending less on public water systems.
It can also be good to have for a non-rainy day (no pun intended) when high temperatures and droughts push homeowners to depend more on the water that falls from their faucets rather than the water that falls from the sky.
Setting up such a system, however, isn’t as simple as sticking rain barrels or water tanks underneath your gutters. There are several steps, methods, and choices a homeowner must make if they want to get the most out of their rainwater collection system:
1. Check the legality of rainwater harvesting in your area
It might sound unbelievable, but some parts of the US don’t allow homeowners to set up rainwater harvesters because of existing water rights. The New York Times reported that some states such as Colorado have changed the legality of this practice to allow residents to collect rainwater, but other parts of the country have still outlawed it based on the amount collected. Check with your state’s water resources department on the legal limits of harvesting rainwater and if any permits are needed to install such a system.
2. Calculate the volume of your average rainfall
It’s also important to know just how much water you’ll be collecting when it rains. You can measure the volume you can expect with a rain gauge to know how many rain barrels or water tanks you’ll need to install in your collection system.
3. Regularly clean your gutters
This sounds like a no-brainer, even to someone who has never installed a rainwater harvesting system in their home, but it’s easy to forget (and put off if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like household chores). Rainwater barrels can become infested with leaves and other unwanted debris and can be even harder to clean than your rain gutters. Keeping these items out of your gutters will prevent you from having to do an even bigger household chore.
4. Know your roof’s dimensions
Just knowing something as simple as the dimensions of your roof can tell you how much rainwater you can collect on average. Garden Gate Magazine says that the “rule of thumb” for these dimensions is that a typical 25 by 40 foot roof can collect around 600 gallons of water during an average rainfall. Compare this to the roof of your home and you should have a good idea of how many water tanks you’ll need for your system.
5. Keep your barrels covered
You’ll also want to keep your collected water protected from the environment before, during, and after the latest storm. Implementing a water collection system with a covered rainwater tank not only keeps debris out of your water supply, but it can also prevent the spread of mosquito populations.
6. Install filters in your gutters and barrels
You can also keep your rainwater supply clean by putting filters into your collection system. It’s best to use an aluminum filter with a fine mesh screen in order to keep mosquitoes from gaining access to the system or your water tanks.
7. Keep the barrels on a cinder block base
You’ll also want to keep your supply from making direct contact with the ground. The best way to do this is to keep them on a small platform made out of a layer of cinder blocks. Not only will it make your rain barrels easier to move and store, but it will keep the foundation of your home from getting wet.
8. You can make your own rain barrel
If you can’t afford to buy enough rain barrels to meet your needs (or just like taking recycling to its longest possible conclusion), you can make a rain barrel of your own out of a plastic bucket with a cover that can fit around the rain spout. The city of Portland, Oregon offers one of the better guides to making a rain barrel.
9. Link your barrels together with a hose
To avoid having to change full rain barrels or water tanks during a storm, there is a way to keep them connected to increase your collection. You can link up your rain water tanks by installing a collection hose at the bottom of each tank and linking it to another tank towards the bottom.
10. Get the most out of your rainwater collection
It’s easy to let the water you’ve collected go to waste if you don’t get much use out of it. Make sure you take the time to use your collection to water your gardens during regular intervals and prevent overflow and waste.
Source: Danny Gallagher (Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, reporter, and humorist).
The very good tips mentioned in the rainwater harvesting article above can be applied all over the world, including South Africa. South African’s need not worry about tip #1 as there are fortunately no laws or restrictions limiting rooftop rainwater harvesting. Rain barrels or water tanks are at the heart of any rainwater collection system and the different brands and types of water tanks should be carefully considered before purchase. There should be a balance of good quality materials and design along with affordability. We recommend rain barrels and water tanks made by JoJo Tanks (South Africa) as they also carry a 5-year guarantee. Click on the links below to find your ideal JoJo water tank, JoJo rainwater tank, JoJo tank stand or other high quality JoJo Tanks product.
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