Natural rainwater is an excellent resource for just about any activity that requires water. Gardening, laundering, bathing, and drinking can all be done with natural rainwater, as long as proper cleaning is practiced prior to use.
Although it may take a bit of extra money for the initial setup of a rainwater harvesting system, you can save usually between 30 and 50 percent on you water bill by using natural rainwater.
Rainwater is typically very clean, and best of all, it is absolutely free. Collection of rainwater will improve self-sufficiency and may also be extremely beneficial in case of emergency.
1. Research the Laws for Rainwater Collection in Your Area
Laws for the amount of rainwater that can be collected without a permit vary from state to state. Most states have some type of regulations in place for rainwater collection.
Some states have more strict guidelines and laws in place than others, while a few states have made collection of rainwater altogether illegal.
For this reason, it is important to look into the laws regarding rainwater collection in your area. It may be worth looking into getting a permit to collect rainwater if you plan to collect a large amount.
2. Gather the Necessary Equipment
The largest piece of equipment that you will need is a barrel to collect rainwater in. Choose a barrel design that will sufficiently hold large amounts of water without risk of leaks or contamination of toxic materials.
There are types of barrels that are made specifically for rainwater collection. Ideally, a barrel will not have any toxic materials, be securely covered and screened, and be accessible for cleaning.
Find a spigot to attach to the bottom of the barrel and make sure that it is screwed in finger tight in order to prevent leaks. You will also need some hose, a hose adaptor, mesh, a jigsaw, and a wrench to build a basic water harvesting system.
3. Build Your Rainwater Harvesting System Correctly
Most of the time, harvesting systems will work at their optimum level when placed beneath the gutters of your house. Place a 50 to 60 gallon metal or plastic barrel beneath the gutters on top of a strong and flat surface.
Consider creating a stand specifically for the barrels to sit on. A flat and raised surface is best for the barrel because you will need access to the spigot at the bottom of the barrel.
Attach a mesh screen to the top of the barrel to act as a filter for the incoming rainwater. Use as fine of a mesh as you can, or try layering a few mesh pieces on top of each other.
Filters that are specifically designed for rainwater collection can also be purchased. It’s important that the water be filtered to be as clean from bugs, leaves, and other toxins as possible before entering the barrel.
Place a tap or spigot at the bottom of the barrel to release the rainwater when you are ready. Consider purchasing a hose attachment to your spigot if you will be using the water for gardening purposes.
4. Check the Surface of Your Roof
Certain types of roof surfaces and materials may add extra chemicals and toxins to water that comes into contact with it.
Asphalt shingles are generally unsafe for rainwater collection, as they will likely pollute water with toxins.
Steel sheets, fire glazed tiles, concrete tiles, cement tiles, and clay tiles are popular choices for those who wish to collect rainwater, as they are certified for rainwater collection.
5. Close Off Your System as Much as Possible
Sitting water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other types or bugs, so it is important not to leave the top part of your barrel open, especially if you live in a tropical climate.
Other animals like frogs and lizards will be attracted to stagnant water, too. The best way to keep your water harvesting system closed off from bugs and other animals is by connecting a hose or tube directly from the gutter to the barrel.
This will allow the water to flow straight into the barrel without leaving any part of it open for outside creatures to use.
Closing off the system with a hose can also make collection of rainwater more efficient because there is no run off that won’t be caught by the barrel.
6. Consider Installing a Greywater System
Greywater is home waste water from all sources other than toilets. Greywater systems can take water from showers, sinks, washing machines, and dishwashers and recycle and retreat it for purposes that do not require drinking water quality.
This can be a great way to recycle and save on water bills in addition to rainwater collection. Additionally, rainwater can be run through these systems in order to filter it again if you are very concerned about the quality and cleanliness of your rainwater.
7. Be Safe
It’s important to keep the rainwater harvesting system on a flat surface that will be able to hold the weight of the water that you plan to collect.
You don’t want the collection barrel to tip over when it’s full. Keep your gutters clean if you plan on collecting rainwater runoff from this area.
The less leaves and dirt there are in the gutter, the fewer contaminants there will be in the rainwater that runs off of the roof. If there are too many contaminants, the rainwater may be unsafe to use for certain things, like drinking.
8. Make the Most of Your Collected Water
Most water that is properly cleaned and stored can be used for things like cleaning, gardening, laundry, or bathing. You need to be extra careful when using collected rainwater for drinking.
Improperly cleaned and filtered water can be dangerous to drink and cause serious problems. Only use collected rainwater to drink if you are absolutely sure that you have filtered it properly and that there are no contaminants in it.
Consider testing the water if to be sure it is safe to drink.
9. Keep Up With Proper Maintenance
Quality water can only be achieved when proper care is taken of the rainwater harvesting system. Gutters, rain heads, water diverters and barrels should be cleaned on a regular basis and serviced regularly.
Consider registering your water collecting system with your local council.
Fortunately, the collection of natural rainwater has many benefits and nearly no drawbacks. Whether being used for gardening, bathing, drinking, or laundry, rainwater can replace the need for depending on outside companies to provide water.
Collecting rainwater will promote self-sufficiency, be beneficial in case of emergency, and allow you to save up to 50 percent on your water bills.
As long as rainwater collection is gone about in a proper and safe manner that follows laws and guidelines that are set in place in your area, collecting rainwater can be an important part of staying green, while cutting back on costs.