Rainwater Collection: Affordable Conservation

As the article below states, rainwater harvesting is addictive!  Once you see how a simple rain barrel or drum can be set up easily and cheaply, most people want to harvest more of this precious and free resouce.  By all means start small (and inexpensively) with a simple rain water system then, once you are convinced, you’ll be looking to install bigger water tanks, perhaps even an underground water tank if space is an issue.
rain barrels
It is no secret that water, or lack thereof, is a major concern to most people in Central Texas. Whether your focus is on keeping your grass green, having water to swim in the Llano River, or simply ensuring that drinking water is available and sustainable, we are all acutely aware about the drought, lack of rain, and the problems the combination poses.

Water conservation measures have been promoted by municipalities, conservation districts, and others, urging people to ‘never let the water run’, to water in the early morning or late evening, limit the amount of loads of laundry, take shorter showers, and check for leaky pipes.

So, you’re doing that. What next?

Well, local gardener and conservationist extrodinaire, Jannie Vaught, asks that you consider rain harvesting. It is, quite simply, the act of collecting the rain that falls in buckets or cisterns or drums or water tanks, and then using it in times of no rains to water your plants. According to Texas A&M AgriLife, rain water collected can be used for in-home use, wildlife, livestock, fire protection, stormwater management, and raingardens, as well as landscaping.

One of the major things preventing people from pursuing this avenue, Jannie says, is fear of high cost. Nonsense, she says! There are many feasible options to create your own rain water collection system with rain barrels or small water tanks.

“Not all of us have, or are willing to spend, our hard earned money on something like gutters and water tanks. But we are realizing as this drought and growing population continue to press on our resources we, as water users, are waking up to the fact, we simply have to shift the way we use water and challenge ourselves to think before we turn on the tap,” Jannie said.

To begin, Jannie says that you need to find a 55 gallon food grade plastic drum or barrel. Sometimes, she says, you can get lucky and find one for free, but if you can’t, J&J Barrels in Fredericksburg has been a good source for her.

Gutters are the next item on the list, and while you can get good ones at do it yourself hardware stores, Jannie suggests using 4” PVC pipe that has been cut in half long way; just drill holes where the eaves are and attach them to at a slight angle. Level the ground under the gutter, using a layer of gravel, and use bricks to help make sure that your collection barrel is level.

A spigot attached to the bucket close to the bottom, using gaskets to prevent leaking, will allow you to then use the water you collect.

Mosquitos can be an issue with water collection, and Jannie recommends using mosquito beater granules in pouches; they can be purchased at the feed store.

There are countless how-to videos on YouTube, so watch a few of those before you set out.

Jannie issued this warning, however; rain water collection is addicting! You will find yourself excited about every drop you catch, comparing collection stories with other collectors, and looking for more ways to collect more water!

“Once you get this first barrel of water after a rain you are hooked on rain water collection. It is like a club, all collectors like to talk about what they figured out. No matter how you collect Sky Water just do it,” she says. “All together we can make a difference, and be assured that our next generation will have water . Let’s not leave them with an empty glass.”

Source: The Llano News (By Heather Wagner and Jannie Vaught)

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