Think Green

  • img1

How to create a rainwater harvesting system

Rainwater collection is a way to conserve water that can be adopted by both private homeowners and businesses. Harvesting water during peak times of precipitation ensures water will be on hand during drought or when water restrictions are implemented. Making use of rainwater reduces reliance on underground wells or municipal water systems. Harvesting rainwater also can help prevent flooding and soil erosion.

The average homeowner can collect thousands of gallons of rainwater each year. To learn just how much water can be harvested, as well as how many natural resources can be produced from that rain, visit, where men and women can calculate their rain collection potential by geographic location and average rainfall. Afterward, homeowners may be inclined to establish their own rainwater harvesting systems. Here is how to get started.

* Determine your roofing material. Potable water can be harvested from homes with sheet metal or slate roofing. Clay or adobe tiles also may be acceptable. Asphalt, wood shingles and tar roofs may leach toxic chemicals into the water, making it unsafe for drinking. This rainwater may only be collected to use for irrigation methods or washing cars and outdoor items.

* Check gutter materials. Some gutters are made with lead soldering components. A commercial lead swab test can help you determine if there is lead present in your gutters. At a later time you can choose to replace the gutters if you desire a potable supply of water.

* Invest in a collection tank or barrel. A number of manufacturers offer prefabricated rain collection systems complete with collection barrels. Otherwise, you can use your own barrel or tank to house the collected water. Ensure it is large enough to handle the volume of water collected.

* Purchase and install leaf guards. If your home is surrounded by many trees, you probably accumulate leaf and tree debris in your home gutters and downspouts. Leaf guards will help keep the gutters clear and increase water flow through the water collection system.

* Create a water collection area. A portion of the gutter system should be removed so that it connects to the collection barrel or tank. As the rain falls, it will run down the roof and into the gutters before it streams into the downspouts. The downspout connected to the tank will deposit the water directly inside. Filters can be installed to help block the flow of debris.

* Outfit the tank for overflow and water usage. A spigot and hose connection makes it easy to use the collected water for outdoor purposes. Many rainwater collection systems are designed with an overflow safeguard that will prevent the water from backing up through the system. It will divert the rainwater back out of the downspout when the barrel or tank is full.

A rainwater collection system harnesses a natural source of water to be used for gardens and other outdoor purposes. This water doesn't contain chlorine or other additives, making it relatively clean and safe to use. Homeowners should check to see if a permit is necessary to install a rainwater collection system and then begin gathering water for various uses.