Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Rain Water Harvesting

My husband set up our simple rain water collection system over the weekend working through the on and off showers we had.  We have already collected a fair amount of water.  We use this water for our potted plants and our garden.  Obviously it is not enough water to take care of the garden completely, but it does reduce the amount of tap water we use.  We may in the future add another collection system to the house or garage, using a more attractive barrel. 
My parents have a more sophisticated collection system.  They live in the country and have a large shop on their property so they are able to collect a lot of water, just from this weekends rain (less than 1/2 inch for them) they have half-way filled their tanks.  My father connected the two tanks so they fill add the same time and he hooked up a pump and pipe running to the garden so they can connect a sprinkler at the garden.  They should be able to water their garden using only rain water if we have normal amounts of rainfall.  Less than one-half of their shop is collecting water, so they have the potential to collect more rain if they need.
Both of our systems cost very little money.  The barrel we used was left by the previous homeowners and we spent 80 cents on the mesh to cover it, strapping it on with bungee cords we already had.  My father received his tanks free of charge.  They were used for weed spray by a local company and he washed the tanks out, neutralized them with bleach, then washed them again.  If we add a water collection system to the house or garage it will cost considerably more.  I have seen barrel systems cost between $100 to $150 dollars, that is why we haven't gone that route yet.

There are many benefits to using rain water rather than tap water, here are just a few.
  1. Rain water is at a more favorable temperature for plant growth than is cold well water.  
  2. It is not chlorinated or treated with chemical as most municipal water supplies are.
  3. Rainwater is a renewable resource.
  4. Once the system is set up it is free.
  5. Reduced water bill.
  6. It reduces the amount flowing into storm sewer drains, taxing the city's sewer system.
There is an excellent article on Rainwater Harvesting on The Global Development Research Center site.