Clean water is the foundation for all life.
What do you do once it becomes polluted?
It is likely your water is clean, drinkable and in unlimited supply, but your unlimited supply of water will not last forever…
Unless you learn how to collect and store rainwater.
Rainwater harvesting is a practice of collecting and storing rainwater in water storage containers.
Rainwater harvesting is not the same today as it was thousands of years ago. In the past our ancestors' harvested rainwater from natural mountain runoff and rainwater collection systems.
Once collected our ancestors would store the rainwater in underground pits. The stored rainwater would later keep crops and livestock alive during dry seasons.
Modern collection methods have changed but the idea has stayed the same. Today modern farmers are the experts at harvesting rainwater.
Farmers collect rainwater to irrigate their crops and care for their livestock. Instead of storage pits farmers use irrigation runoffs and storage barrels. Farms rely on harvesting rainwater as a critical part of their irrigation systems.
Urbanized areas are also beginning to collect rainwater. In urban areas rainwater harvesting is simple and water use is minimal.
Needing less water allows for less complex systems to achieve the same goal. Even with a simple residential system the usage cases remain the same as farmers.
Rainwater collection has many benefits in everyday life and in emergency situations. These can range from saving money to reducing property damage. Below we listed a few examples of how rainwater collection can benefit you.
Using rainwater is an efficient way to reduce utility bills and save money. During peak months utility bill prices rise and water usage increases.
Harvesting rainwater can offset the increase in price during the peak months. You can save money during these months by watering your garden, bathing your pets, and washing your dishes with rainwater.
Rainwater collection is essential in times of emergency and crisis. During a crisis running water is often not available for days or weeks. In these situations your garden, hygiene, and health can decline without the availability of clean water.
Collecting rainwater removes the fear of losing running water by allowing self sustainability and reducing reliance on outside sources.
Environmental benefits also come from collecting rainwater. Harvesting rainwater reduces stormwater runoff.
Excess stormwater runoff can cause flooding and property damage from overflow. Stormwater can also pollute waterways by carrying fertilizers and pesticides into streams.
Collecting rainwater reduces the amount of runoff and creates a more sustainable ecosystem.
Rainwater can eventually cause damage to your property. The damage can either be to the landscape of your property or your home.
Over time rainwater will start to erode the path it takes to the lowest point on your property.
Overstrained drainage systems can also deteriorate from rainfall. Replacing these systems costs thousands and requires trenching your yard to find the bad pipe. Harvesting rainwater tackles all these problems by reducing the amount of water runoff on your property.
Only 1.2% of water on the planet is drinkable water. That percentage shrinks each year due to pollution from pesticides and fertilizers.
With less drinkable water each year rainwater harvesting is important for emergencies and becoming self sustainable.
Becoming self sustainable protects your family and improves the quality of the planet.
Storms drains lead to natural waterways that carry the water into the ocean. During rainstorms stormwater carries pesticides and fertilizers into storm drains.
Storm drains do not filter the water allowing polluted water to enter waterways. Once pollutants enter our waterways they destroy the natural ecosystem.
Rainwater Harvesting lowers the amount of pollutants in waterways. When you harvest rainwater the runoff from your roof collects in barrels.
Collecting rainwater reduces the amount of rainwater runoff that flows into storm drains. With less rainwater runoff entering storm drains less pollutants travel into waterways.
Keeping pollutants out of our waterways not only keeps the water clean but also improves the ecosystem.
Uses for collected rainwater are never ending. Some of these uses include cooking, drinking, gardening, bathing, laundry, livestock care and more. Below we showcase how useful collected rainwater is in further detail.
According to the CDC collected rainwater is safe for drinking and cooking.
Rainwater is safe because it does not contain any chlorine or other chemicals.
Watering gardens, lawns and houseplants are good uses for rainwater. Rainwater is the best resource for watering plant life in or around your home.
Rainwater has been proven to increase the growth of plants over tap water. Plants grow from rainwater in nature and prefer it over treated water.
Harvesting rainwater allows you to water your plants with the water they want year round.
Bathing and laundry is another use for collected rainwater. A quarter of the water used by families in the United States is attributed to washing clothes.
When you add showers and baths on top it accounts for 50% of all water usage. Harvested rainwater can reduce your water usage by providing an alternative source of clean water.
Reducing the amount of water your home uses reduces electricity used and fossil fuels burned.
Livestock and pets can also use rainwater instead of tap or well water. Rainwater is suitable and safer for pets or livestock than tap water. Rainwater is safer than tap water since chemicals like chlorine are not added.
Rainwater is also usable during a drought when tap and natural water are not available. With rainwater being safer and more sustainable for feeding your livestock there is no reason you should not be collecting today.
Harvesting rainwater reduces your carbon footprint. Tap and well water use electricity to treat and distribute water.
Every time you use your faucet electricity is used to move the water out of the faucet. Once your faucet is off the water recycles into a treatment plant. Treatment plants use massive amounts of electricity to purify and transport water while harvesting rainwater uses no electricity.
Cutting down on the city and well water usage reduces your carbon footprint making the planet more sustainable.
Drainage problems start from excess water straining your current drainage system. Drainage issues can cause flooding which leads to property damage to your home.
Collecting and storing rainwater can reduce the amount of water flowing through your drainage system. With less strain on your drains the system should work as designed and stop flooding.
You can collect as much rain as your rainwater barrels can store. The storage of your rainwater harvesting system will depend on the size of your tanks and method of collection.
The larger the collection surface you have the more rain you can collect. The amount you can collect also depends on your climate.
The general rule is you can collect about 530 gallon per inch of rainwater for every 1000 square feet of collection surface.
Once you have calculated how much rainwater you can collect, the amount of storage is the next factor.
To find out how much rainwater you should store, start by tracking your water consumption. Once you know your weekly water consumption, look for local rainfall predictions.
You want to store as much rainwater as you use in-between rainfalls. It is also a good idea to store more than what you think you will use for emergencies or miscalculations.
Storage of rainwater for emergency situations is different from your normal rainwater storage. Emergency rainwater storage is for periods of extended drought or unavailability.
Your emergency storage should hold enough water to sustain you and your family for a few months. Remember to always empty your normal storage before using your emergency storage.
There are three main methods of collecting rainwater: surface runoff, rooftop harvesting and custom collection systems. No method is better than another and should depend on your situation.
Below are explanations of each system and recommendations on which one might be best for you.
Surface runoff collects rainwater from the ground. Urban areas allow for rainwater to flow away from buildings and into storm runoffs. To collect the surface runoff you must find where the water is flowing on your property.
Start by running a drain from where the water flows to a storage barrel. Your storage barrel needs to be lower than where you are collecting the water. Remember water only flows down.
This is the most difficult method of collecting rainwater. Surface runoff is difficult because of the extra planning and setup required.
Rooftop rainwater harvesting is the most popular method of collecting rainwater. Your roof works great to collect rainwater because of the large surface area and is already designed to drain water away from your house.
You can use your roof's existing drainage system to collect rainwater. To start collecting rooftop rainwater attach a water diverter to your existing gutter drain that flows into a water barrel.
The rainwater collected from your roof is often a little dirty. This is a simple fix as you can purify the water with CLO2 water purification tablets.
Custom rainwater harvesting is the last method of collecting rainwater. Custom harvesting systems vary in size and design.
Each custom rainwater harvesting system is specific to the collector. Custom systems and rooftop rainwater harvesting methods are very similar. Both methods use a roof like slanted surface to collect rain before draining to storage or irrigation.
However, most will not need to build a custom system unless collecting rainwater from your roof is not an option.