Harvesting rainwater is free and there are very few reasons not to install rainwater harvesting tanks. The article below outlines more easy tips to harvesting this free and precious resource. Rainwater from rain water tanks is generally used for non-potable purposes but there is also no reason why it cannot be used for all household purposes, including drinking water, if an appropriate rainwater filtration system is installed. It is also important to store rainwater in high quality water tanks that do not contaminate it.
Instead of grousing over the water bill every month, use the free water that falls from the sky to landscape your yard. A house with 1,000 square feet of roof surface area can collect more than 600 gallons of water from just one inch of rainfall. In addition to providing a free source of water to keep your flora alive, harvesting rainwater is a sustainable and eco-friendly option that conserves groundwater, reduces erosion and flood, and protects from runoff pollution.
Use Passive Harvesting Techniques
Rather than put in extra effort to activity collect water, your first method of harvesting should involve passive collection. This requires extra planning to direct the natural flow of water — rather than placing gutters — and letting the soil store the water instead of containers or water tanks. Techniques for this include swales, curb cuts, berms, and natural basins.
Don’t Fight Gravity
Why battle with nature? Let the water naturally flow downhill into a water tank for collection. This can include landscaping your yard with subtle grading that directs naturally flowering water down to trees and large shrubs. You can even plant a garden at the bottom of your yard to ensure the water makes it way down there.
Just make sure that no puddling can occur, particularly where there’s a chance for rotting, such as if you have a wooden fence.
Supplement with a Cistern
When you just aren’t able to make passive water harvesting work, or you need extra water storage, add a cistern, which is an above- or in-ground storage container. This can range from a trash barrel to large decorative pots on the patio or an in-ground container that’s professionally installed — it just depends on your budget and water needs. If you plan to use your rain harvest system to water the landscape throughout the entire year, choose a water tank that hold at least 3,000 gallons.
Before you purchase water harvesting equipment, be sure to check out the equipment’s online reputation.
Landscape with Native Plants
If you’re in a desert area, it doesn’t make much sense to put a lot of effort into harvesting water for flora that needs more water that the area can naturally provide. Instead, choose cacti and other plants that require less water. If you choose to supplement native plants with those not naturally grown in the area, you can expect to have to supplement your water harvest with fluid that you pay for.
Harvested rainwater is only effective if you use it safely. In its journey from the sky to your garden, the water can soak up chemicals, animal waste, and other substances that you don’t want in your body. As such, you should only use harvested water on your non-edible landscaping, including flowers, shrubs, and trees. You should never water your vegetable garden with harvested water before you filter it, nor should you use the water for drinking or washing you or a family member — including a pet.
Pooling water can also increase the risk of mosquitoes and other bugs, so survey the landscape frequently to ensure that there’s no standing water.
Harvesting rainwater decreases your water bill and helps the environment at the same time — as long as it’s done effectively and responsibly.
Source: Kelsey Castle (Kelsey Castle is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on environmental topics. She enjoys planting a small herb garden and learning how to make tomatoes grow in her shady backyard).
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