Harvest Your Rain Water

Water is vital for every aspect of life. From drinking to maintaining sanitation, it is one of the most valuable resources to which we have access. It is in abundant supply here on the earth yet utility companies can often charge excessive amounts of money in order to deliver water that’s full of fluoride and other harsh chemicals. However, you can avoid having to rely on these institutions almost completely simply by gathering the rain that falls naturally on your property. This free source of water can be used for everything from showering to watering plants. Nature is truly bountiful when you have the means and the know-how to put her on your side. Homeowners all around the nation have set up simple rainwater systems that are effective and increase the standing of their homes when it comes to efficiency and their green factor. By exploring some of the following critical aspects of collecting rainwater, you can begin to open the door to this vital part of truly sustainable living.


The Materials Needed
Harvesting rainwater begins with establishing a system that relies primarily on a cistern that will collect any rainfall. This hardware for collecting the water should be constructed with materials that will stand up well to the elements. They can be installed both above and below ground as well. Most common cisterns are made from plastic; although galvanized metal or fiberglass can be just as durable and effective. Plastic does tend to be the least expensive option, however. You must also put thought into the color of the cistern based on the use of the water. Dark materials will heat the water slightly over time. Transparent materials or those that are too light in color can allow for algae growth in the water.


A System In Place
Determinations for the size and placement of the cistern should be based on the amount of water that you expect to use and the slope of the area where you expect to gather the water; a roof for instance. If you will be keeping a cistern on the roof, you must also calculate the weight of the cistern when it is completely full of water in order to be sure that the structure can support the installation. Plenty of homeowners will also choose to simply use rain barrels instead of a complete cistern installation. The cost is much lower, and few homeowners need the large amount of water that a cistern is capable of collecting. Most people only attach hoses for watering gardens or outfit the unit so that it is accessible as an outdoor shower. While the rain barrels are cheaper and collect less water, they are somewhat more limited when it comes to their applications.


Using Existing Hardware
In many cases, the gutter system that is already in place on a home can be altered and redirected to allow water to flow into a cistern or rain barrel, minimizing the amount of work that must go into the project. Installing a simple filter or grate where the water is transferred into the collection unit will keep out unwanted debris. Another important decision is related to the hardware you install that allows the water to escape. Faucet openings tend to be the most efficient for many applications. However, homeowners should be aware that valves placed near the base of the unit sometimes require a pump to remove water when levels are extremely low.


This article was written by Fergie McLachlan, organic gardener.  Fergie does the best she can to save our resources, and hopes she is able to help you to do the same through her writing.  She used water storage tanks to harvest rain water, as well as to compost, though some minor adjustments.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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