Harvesting Rainwater

Written by Bryan Clayton on September 29, 2014

Throughout the United States, droughts are becoming a serious problem. In California this year, it is expected that the state will go through the worst drought it has seen in 500 years. Especially in areas like Tampa or St Petersburg Florida, local municipalities place water restrictions on how much homeowners can water their lawns.  Officials are asking every single person in the state to cut their water use by 20 per cent.

You may not be going through a drought, but you can still help to conserve water without having to give up much. This is where something like harvesting rainwater comes in. To be fair, harvesting rainwater is not a new thing. It has existed, in one way or another, for thousands of years. In our modern era, having water available to us at the tap has caused many to forget about the benefits of harvesting rainwater. For a homeowner, harvesting rainwater will not only help the environment, but it can also help you save money. Rain is free, and you can use that rain to water your lawn or garden during times of dry and hot weather.

To harvest rain, here are some tips:

  • Make sure you have a roof that can be used to harvest water. Some roofs are composed of lead-based paints, and that is the last thing that you want in your water, even if it is just being used to water the lawn. You want a roof that is non-toxic. If your roof is made of steel sheets, well-fired glazed tiles, concrete, or composite tiles, then you should be fine to use your roof to collect rainwater.
  • Look at your gutters and make sure they are going to work for rainwater. Some gutters have dips that cause water to collect, and that can lead to bacteria and mosquitoes being there.
  • Clear your gutters of all debris. Any debris will not only impact the quality of the water, it will impact how much water you actually get. You can install a fireproof mesh over your gutters that will prevent any leaves or sticks from collecting in the gutter, blocking it.
  • If you want to minimize sludge buildup, you can fit the gutter outlets on the underside of the roof. This will result in no obstructions and the gutters can drain directly into your rain barrels.
  • Install a first-flush diverter on the pipe leading into your barrel. This first flush will divert the first bit or rainwater, which can have the most toxins in it, from getting into the barrel.

You can place your rain barrel anywhere around the house. It would be best to have a barrel at every gutter outlet, but that may not be in your budget. If it isn’t, put the barrel(s) where they will have the least obstructions from the roof, where you think the most rain can collect. Also remember that you need to use that water and not let it sit for too long. You don’t want to overflow the barrels when the next rain comes either since that is just wasted water in your yard. After each rain, check the levels and determine if you need to use any of it.