Rainwater harvesting reduces dependence on municipal water

A great article on how to make a simple, inexpensive rainwater harvesting system.  We always recommend installing more water storage capacity than you think you need as it is surprising how quickly a thunder shower can fill even a large 10000 litre water tank! Some states in the US have restrictions on rainwater harvesting, fortunately there are no such restrictions in South Africa.  If you intend drinking rainwater from your rain water tanks, ensure it is first properly filtered.

rain water tanks

The impacts of a drought are far-reaching, from depleted reservoir levels to forest fires, and, ultimately, your access to fresh water. The good news is that there are alternatives to tapping into the public water supply, and eco-conscious residents can harvest and use rainwater to meet their needs.

While harvesting rainwater can be a costly and complex effort, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be as easy as using your home’s gutter system to divert the rain into a container or small water tank or rain barrel.

Prior to starting your project, it is important to see if rainwater harvesting is allowed in your area. Some US states don’t allow this because water rights remain with the state.

Once you determine if you are able to harvest the rain at your home, follow these 11 steps to create a basic rainwater harvesting system.

  1. Use a jigsaw to cut the top quarter off of a food safe, five-gallon bucket.
  2. Place the top quarter of the bucket on the lid of a 55 gallon drum, and use a marker to trace around it.
  3. Use a jigsaw to cut a hole along the circle that you have just traced. When finished, the top of the bucket should fit snug in the hole that you have cut in the top of the drum.
  4. Cut a small hole in the lower wall of the drum, and install a ¾” / 2cm spigot so that it is secure.
  5. Stand the drum on cinder blocks to elevate it off of the ground.
  6. Install a two-way line diverter on the downspout on your home. This will allow you to capture water when you need it. When you don’t, you can flip the switch and divert the water to the ground.
  7. Add an extension that will lead from the diverter to the drum.
  8. Trace the end of the extension on the lid of the bucket, and then cut a hole so that it will fit tightly and water can flow into the lid and therefore into the drum.
  9. Lay a paint strainer across the open mouth of the bucket, and tighten the lid so that it holds the strainer in place. The strainer will serve to capture debris that may come through the gutter system.
  10. Once the lid is on, place the end of the drain in the hole in the bucket lid.
  11. Place a gutter strainer at the top of the downspout from the gutter to prevent larger debris from clogging the gutters, therefore interrupting the rainwater flow.

It is important to keep the container covered to prevent mosquito larvae from invading your water supply. You should also keep your water out of direct sunlight to prevent algae from growing. This can be as simple as using a dark, translucent container and some sort of dark cover that can be placed over it. An old grill cover or a dark tarp will work just fine.

Now that you are collecting non-potable rainwater, what can you use it for?

  • Keep Your Garden Growing: One of the most common uses of harvested rainwater is to keep vegetation alive. Anyone who lives in a drought prone area is familiar with water restrictions that limit water use during dry times, but with rainwater, you can continue to water your fruits and veggies and help them survive the brutal conditions.
  • Preserve Your Green Grass: Watering your lawn is often a casualty of water restrictions, but rainwater will allow you to keep your grass green.
  • Wash Your Car: It is difficult to appropriately care for your car when water is being rationed, but you can protect your prized possession by using some of your stored water and soap.
  • Clean and Cool Your Pets: In the heat of the summer, your four-legged friends can suffer in their natural fur coats. Rainwater is perfect for cooling and cleaning your family’s best friend, even during the “dog days.”
  • Attract Wildlife: Bird baths and watering troughs can be oases for wild animals during droughts, particularly out West. Rainwater can provide local wildlife a much needed watering hole.

Keep in mind that more complex harvesting systems will allow you to treat rainwater so that it is potable and can be used in the home for drinking water, baths, and washing clothes. While these systems are more expensive to build and install, they provide excellent opportunities to reduce your family’s dependence on the water supply while maintaining your way of life.

Source: EcoSeed Edited (By Garret Stembridge who is a member of the Internet marketing team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for the home and for businesses. In Arizona, the Phoenix self storage facility has been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.)

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Live in the USA and need rainwater harvesting equipment?  Click HERE!

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