Here's everything you wanted to know about rainwater harvesting. (2023)

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Trying to save water, whether through a rain barrel, large capacity tank, or greywater system, has a barrier to entry. They can be intimidating to some, and it can be hard to understand why someone should choose one system over another.

Butrainwater savingit is increasingly important in the West. With all the recent rains, thesecoit may be over in some areas, but we're surely fooling ourselves if we think it won't be back. Also, when you think about the fact that rainwater harvesting dates back to the Old Testament, and that some collection systems in the Middle East are 5,000 years old, you can't help but feel like we're late to the party.

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To remedy the situation, here's everything you need to know about rain barrels, tanks, underground cisterns, and gray water systems. Let the party begin.

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rain barrels

Rain barrels, when you think about it, are the gateway to water conservation because they are quick and easy to use.

According to Kevin Lenhart,de YardzenProject manager, the water from the rain barrel should be used to water decorative plants such as flower beds and potted plants. However, he points out that one should never water herbs ororchardswith rain barrel water, or use for cooking or drinking water for pets. “Roofs can release a number of toxic substances into runoff water, so be careful not to apply this water to edible crops,” he says.

By diverting runoff, rain barrels can prevent erosion and water pollution. To buy one, check your locationhouse depositoLowe´s. They are easy to use thanks to a tap where you can place a watering can or connect a hose. Importantly, some rain barrels have an overflow mechanism to prevent water from flooding near your home when the barrel is full. (Overflowing barrels can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which love standing water.)

Here's everything you wanted to know about rainwater harvesting. (1)

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In terms of location, a rain barrel should be attached to your house gutter. (Hopefully in an area with a significant amount of rain runoff.) Also, keep in mind that you don't want to get them too far out of the way, making it a chore to get the water they contain.

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Building a level platform for the rain barrel is a good idea. (You can make a platform out of wood, bricks, or concrete.) The resulting water pressure will feed your hose, although some choose to invest in a pump system when necessary.

“As the drought persists across the country, we see increased interest in smart water projects in general,” says Lenhart. “Among customers with a green thumb or handy trait, rain barrels are gaining ground. They just need a bit of will to go out there and manage the water on their own.”

If you're intimidated by rain barrels, add, Adding more trees and pervious surfaces like flower beds and rock gardens to your yard can really help you in your attempts to increase your site's water catchment.

In terms of maintenance, he recommends inspecting, draining, and cleaning the barrel regularly. That way, you can make sure you're not collecting sediment, trash, bugs, or algae.

An advert: Lenhart says contractors often say that if you're going to go to great lengths to install rain barrels, you might as well go bigger, using large, flat barrels that can be hidden under covers that can hold enough water for powerful irrigation. . pump system In the meantime, keep in mind that a full 50 gallon rain barrel will only provide approximately 7 to 8 minutes of watering time.

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More ideas for storing rainwater

When you want to get serious about rainwater storage, Josep Ferrer, Communications Manager atgray water bodyin Los Angeles says you should start with a 530 gallon tank and add more as needed. “It doesn't rain a lot here, but when it rains, a lot of water can fall,” says Ferrer. “A small roof area of ​​1,000 square feet will generate 600 gallons with 1 inch of rain, and LA gets about 15 inches of rain a year.”

The challenge, of course, is that you need a place to store it. That is why Greywater Corps recommends afine tank, which can nestle firmly against the house. Round kegs may be cheaper, she says, but they take up more space.

Like rain barrels, these rainwater harvesting systems capture water from roofs and other impervious surfaces so you can use it later. “To install a Slimline tank, you need to set it up along with pipes to bring the water to the tank,” says Ferrer. “You also need a method to distribute water across the landscape. This can be accomplished by gravity in a hose faucet or by means of a pump.” (A pump with a filtration system can also be connected to automatic irrigation systems, such as drip lines.)

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Rob D Brodman

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As for cisterns, they can hold 10,000 gallons of water or more. These large tanks can be above or below ground and require maintenance. “Gutters, screens, and filters (if used) all need maintenance to function properly,” he says. Expensive projects like these, costing around $100,000 or more, are best for large properties with extensive landscaping needs. Meanwhile, though prices go up and down these days, a standard Slimline tank system can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.

What about gray water?

Greywater is collected from showers, bathtubs, sinks, and washing machines. They work by redirecting used water gently back into your landscape by gravity or by using a pump. “There are also systems that take water directly from the washing machine (from laundry to landscaping) and do not require modifications to the home's plumbing,” says Ferrer. For greywater, he recommends hiring a professional, as it involves modifying sewer pipes to direct only greywater to the landscape, then building an irrigation system to distribute it.

Greywater accounts for 50 to 80 percent of average household water use. (The rest is sewage from toilets and dishwashers). How much you can save depends on how much gray water you generate, of course, but Ferrer's customers report seeing up to 60% reduction in water use. As an example, Ferrer says that a 10-minute shower with a low-flow shower at 1.5 gallons per minute will produce 15 gallons of greywater, while a 15-gallon per load washer will also produce that same amount of greywater.

If you want to store and use your greywater, you need to consider the household products you use. In terms of hair care products and soaps, the best ones to use are labeled "biodegradable" or, better yet, "biocompatible." This means that they are free of dyes, aromas or bleaches. Greywater Corporation has adetailed product guide.Greywater is best used on trees, shrubs and large ornamentals. It cannot be used for grass because it cannot be sprayed, nor can it be used forvegetable beds. To install a gray water system, the cost can range from $5,000 to $20,000.

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Keep reading:
  • garden basics
  • landscaping
  • low water gardening guide
  • Low Water Gardening Newsletter
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