Weekend Project: Install a Rainwater Collection System

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This weekend’s project is installing a rainwater collection system. Maybe you have seen rain barrels in a neighbor’s yard, maybe you grew up with one. They come in a variety of shapes and styles, but the basic set-up is the same: the system is designed to catch rainwater that runs off your roof and store it for later use. Rain barrels are easy to set up, easy to use, and have a variety of benefits ecologically, economically, hydrologically, and horticulturally.

Why?

(1) Store Water. Rain barrels have been used for centuries to store up rainwater for times of water scarcity. They are especially helpful if you live in a region that is prone to drought or sporadic rainfall.

(2) Purest Water. Municipal (hard) water has chemicals added to it, like chlorine and fluorine, and other minerals. Rainwater does not contain as many contaminants and so is healthier for your soil and plants.

(3) Stormwater. Stormwater runoff  is rainwater that runs off of impervious (hard, non-absorptive) surfaces instead of filtering back into the ground. Impervious surfaces include parking lots, roads, driveways, and roofs. Instead of funneling water off your roof and out into the storm drains, you can divert water from your gutters into a rain barrel and use it to water your gardens, giving the water the chance to nourish plants and filter naturally into the earth.

(4) Free water. It seems obvious enough: rain water is free. What sort of savings can you expect from installing a rainwater collection system though?

  • www.rainbarrelguide.com estimates that an average-sized home uses 82,280 gal of water annually. To determine how much of this water you use in your yard, consult this guide.
  • How much does a rain barrel cost? Rain barrels/collection systems can range from $70-300. You can buy specific shapes and sizes to suit your needs and the design of your home and yard, you can find a service to install it for you, or you can make and install it yourself.
  • How much water can you collect with a rain barrel? For a house with a roof area of 40’x50x (2000 sq. ft.) the estimate is that you could collect around 1,200 gal annually. Consult this guide to calculate the water-collection capacity of your roof.
  • That’s 1,200 gallons less water that you need to pay for.

DIY Event

If you live in the coastal communities of Alabama, you can make your own rain barrel next Wednesday, April 11th! The cost if $40 to participate, and you will take home a ready-to-use rain collection barrel. Check out the flyer for more information, and if you’re interested, be sure to register by Monday, April 9th. Two Baykeepers will be attending to make our own rain barrels; we hope to see you there!

Check with university extensions, local non-profits, and home and garden stores in your area to see if they are hosting rain barrel workshops!

Let’s Make A Difference

As always, send us a picture of your rain barrel, or comment below, and we will enter you in our weekly drawing! Everyone is eligible because everyone makes a difference! The first drawing will be done on Monday, April 9th, we will contact you that morning if you win.

Helpful resources

A Guide to anything you could want to know about rain barrel/catchment systems:

http://www.rainbarrelguide.com/

A good overview from the University of Minnesota Extension:

http://www.lakesuperiorstreams.org/citizen/3-08%20Rain%20Barrels%20Brochure%20(final).pdf

A DIY guide to making a rainwater collection system:

http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Green-Home/Saving-Water/how-to-build-a-rain-barrel

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6 thoughts on “Weekend Project: Install a Rainwater Collection System

    • Good question! I don’t know from personal experience, but I would guess that the water pressure in the pictured model would probably be pretty light. A family friend built a platform for his rain barrel that raises it about 4 feet off the ground, and the water pressure is pretty good. Is that an option for your rain barrel?

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