Usually when the forecast is filled with rain showers people find themselves staying inside and hoping for sunshine. Before you start singing “rain, rain, go away” it is important that you know how rainwater could be benefiting you and your home. Rainwater harvesting is the system of collecting and storing rainwater to use later. The practice of harvesting rainwater is thousands of years old but has a very modern impact today as the world water supply is decreasing every year.
Why Collect Rainwater?
Rainwater harvesting comes with both environmental and economic benefits. Stored water can be used for both indoor and outdoor uses, a few uses include car washing, laundry, bathing, drinking (with filtering and testing) and watering plants. When harvesting rain water many users see a decreased utility bill due to the volume of free water that can be collected.
Many people like collecting rainwater due to the fact it results in a water source independent of municipal water. This means you could have a private, protected source of water in case of emergency or if the municipal water is contaminated. Another perk of having a private source of water is during drought or regional water restrictions you can supplement your main supply with your harvested rainwater.
Rainwater collection is especially popular in areas of the country where the primary water source is well-water. Well-water is known for being “hard” water, meaning the water contains a high mineral content. Rainwater is naturally “soft”, containing little to no minerals. Having access to a soft water source is very beneficial as it does not damage pipes, reacts well with soaps, and requires no softening methods.
How to Collect Rainwater?
The most popular system for rain water harvesting is utilizing rain barrels. A rain barrel can be purchased at a home improvement store, online or you can make your own. The best place for a rain barrel is right under the down spout of your gutter. Water run-off from the roof will go down the gutter and into your rain barrel. Some rain barrels come with spouts for easy access and use, this allows you to fill containers or hook up a hose to the spout.
Before and after installation of your rain barrel there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the location of your barrel is very important, make sure not to put it near utilities or a septic tank.
Secondly, to keep your system from getting clogged or contaminated it is important to use a screen. These screens stop leaves, insects and other material from everything the system where your downspout is located. Also, maintenance on your system is important to keep your rainwater free of contaminates. A season maintenance schedule is ideal and a complete drain of the tank should take place every 3-5 years. Finally, if you want to use your collected rainwater for drinking it is important to install a filter or disinfection system in your rain barrel. A good option is a first flush diverter, this system is simple and removes the first water that comes into the system since it likely has a higher likelihood of being contaminated. Before drinking your harvested rainwater, it is important to filter, disinfect and test the water regularly.
Now that you know about the basic uses of rainwater and simple rain barrel system you have no reason to sing “rain, rain, go away” when the weatherman predicts rain. Get your collection system set up and go dance in the rain!