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DIY Rainwater Collection Tips

With green and sustainable building techniques gaining more momentum every day, rainwater collection is a method that homeowners are finding ever more appealing.  Rainwater harvesting is an innovative approach to lowering our impact on the water table, an alternative method that anyone can put into practice easily and with high efficiency.

By harvesting rainwater, you can reduce the demand on the existing water supply, as well as reducing runoff, erosion, and contamination of the local water supply.  The rainwater you gather can be used for nearly any purpose that requires water, including in-home use, fire protection, irrigation and landscape use, wildlife, livestock, and pet watering, and stormwater control.

One of the best things about these systems is that they can be tailored to your needs.  They can be made as simple as you imagine, or as complex as you desire.  The basic elements in the system include a catchment surface (i.e. your roof), a conveyance system, storage, distribution, and treatment.  The catchment system is some form of rain gutter, a system which collects the water as if lows off of your roof.  The conveyance system then directs this water to a central point for downward flow.  Afterwards, it is collected in a barrel or other form of storage.  Finally, it can be tapped from your rain barrels and used for agricultural purposes, or treated for in-home use.

The beautiful thing about this is that rain gutters will offer about 50% of this system ready-made.  This means that there’s really no downside to setting up a system that allows you to make use of the water falling upon your roof each time it rains.

The first and most basic tip for DIY rainwater collection is to ensure that large debris is filtered from the water before it flows into your storage system.  The easiest way to do this is to use a gutter guard or leaf guard system for your rain gutters.  Next, you’ll want to link your rain gutters so that all the water flowing from your roof is collected into a central channel.  This channel can then be directed into a single collection barrel.

Simple DIY collection barrels can be made from plastic garbage cans or PVC barrels.  You can increase your storage capacity by linking barrels with a length of hose or PVC pipe.  This linkage point should be placed approximately 30cm down from the top of the barrel so it can act as an overflow.  This will ensure that the primary barrel collects water first and that the secondary or tertiary barrels fill only once the previous ones have reached capacity.  Finally, you’ll need a tap to receive water from the barrels, ideally placed in the lower 10cm of each barrel.  For those who are a bit handier, you can attach a PVC system to the bottom center of each barrel, linking all barrels into a single delivery point.  Here are several ideas for DIY rainwater collection to get you started.

If you only wish to use this water for agricultural or livestock purposes, this is all you’ll need for a complete system.  However, if you’d like to use this water for in-house purposes or human consumption, you’ll want to include a filtration or purification system to treat the water before consumption.  Here are some simple ideas to get you started with a home water purification system.  You can install this to the tap leading from your storage barrels and create a collection point for potable water.

Water is life, and having control of your water means that you have greater control over your life.  This is just one step to reducing your dependence upon centralized systems, but it’s a big one.  If you’d like to explore some further options on home improvement, feel free to contact us.

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