Water Harvesting with Rain Barrels

Greenhouse - Green Home - Water Harvesting with Rain Barrels

Water Harvesting with Rain BarrelsWater harvesting is the process of redirecting and productively using rainfall which can benefit the environment, conserve local resources, lower monthly utility bills and even keep your lawn alive when everyone else's are dying.

Harvesting Water for Conservation - A summer downpour that delivers a � inch of rain can drop enough water on the average roof to fill a 50 gallon container for use in the yard or contribute waste water to city sewer systems. Landscaping and Gardening make up to 40% of an average household's water use during the summer months.

Harvesting Water for Landscaping - It is not uncommon for a city government to restrict water use during an especially harsh summer. The most sensible restriction to make and enforce other than making people shower once a week is on outdoor water use. While you may be fine with your 94' Honda going a period of time without luster, you may be a little more uneasy about letting those bushes you planted several years ago die. The easiest way to at least continue to benefit your hard work in the lawn during the summer months without fear of a restriction is by collecting runoff water from your roof.

Calculation for Water Harvesting Yield - A homeowner can calculate the exact amount of rainwater your roof can collect per year. Understanding that an inch of water per square foot = .623 gallons and knowing the average annual rainfall amount in your city, you can estimate the amount of water that can be collected from your roof.

Rain Barrels are the least expensive and quickest way to begin harvesting water. Rain Barrels are simple rain collection and containment devices. A typical rain barrel attaches or is placed under a gutter drain and is made up of the following components.

  • Inlet for rainwater at the top covered by
  • A screen to keep out insects, leaves, sticks, etc.
  • An outlet on the bottom
  • A water spicket for attaching a hose
  • A overflow drain at the top
  • With an extended drainage pipe to channels water away from the foundation of the home

Making a rain barrel - While there are companies on the web that sell and even offering installation guidance for elaborate rain barrels, someone with a little do-it-yourself aptitude can construct one on a Saturday morning.

A rain barrel supply list is short and simple to fill with materials in your garage and your local hardware and gardening stores:

  • 50 to 60 Gallon Plastic Capped Drum - Remember, a 50 gallon drum can be filled by just one shower that delivers � inches of rain. Plastic storage drums can range from $19 and up.
  • A hole-saw bit for your drill (at least � Inches)
  • Copper Spiket
  • PVC funnel for inlet
  • Screen to Filter Inlet
  • Plumbing Tape
  • Gravel or Cinder Blocks for creating a level surface

Building Process

  • Drilling holes - (1) in the top of the drum for the inlet; (1) on the top side of the drum for overflow and one on the bottom for where the outlet.
  • After wrapping the ends of the overflow outlet and spiket you insert them in their proper holes.
  • Cover the PVC funnel with screen and bind it with a metal clamp.
  • Insert the funnel into the whole of the drum that was once capped.

Installation Considerations

  • Select an area located directly under a gutter drain - Keep in mind that you will want this location to be hidden from plain site, especially if you bought the $19 industrial drum.
  • Remove guttering enough to fit the barrel under the drain
  • Ensure the water barrel is level using gravel or cinder blocks - Keep in mind that each gallon of water = 10 pounds, so stability is critical.