Sustainability 101: Rain Harvesting

Rain harvesting is the process by which rain (or other precipitation) is funneled into a catchment system for later use. Most people use their collected rainwater for gardens but if you’re adventurous enough, you can filter it for drinking water, bath water, or a number of other things.

In areas with any substantial amount of rain, it’s easy to collected hundreds or thousands of gallons of water. In drier climates, such as the one where I live, it’s still easy to collect several hundred gallons. (Think about that for a second – hundreds or thousands of gallons of free water!)

Setting up a rain barrel to catch rain coming off your roof is ridiculously simple. According to RainXchange, a 2000 square foot roof can collect 1250 gallons of reusable water with just one inch of rain. Look up how many inches your town received on average and you can do the amazing math.

Now, 1250 gallons doesn’t mean much if your yard is a green oasis of Kentucky bluegrass or some similar grass. One estimate claims that the average yard in America might get 3000+ gallons of water PER WEEK – per WEEK – during warmer months. So even if you’re not a yard junkie, you can drastically reduce the amount of water being pulled out of a non-renewable source by collecting rainwater.

Rain barrels can be simple and homemade, or fancy and pricey. It just depends on what you’re willing to spend and how much effort you’re willing to put in.

As I’ve said on this blog ad nauseum, preserving freshwater is imperative for sustainable living because it is not a renewable resource. When we redirect and slurp up all of our rivers and drain all of aquifers, that’s about it. We’re down to harvesting rainwater. So why not start now?

Rain barrels can usually be fitted with spigots and irrigation lines, so as long as you have the gravity, you can water your plants with little effort. I have a really small garden spot, so I just dip a big watering can into my rain barrels and water my plants that way.

Anyone using rain barrels out there? Leave a comment!


Posted on December 14, 2010, in Connected Living and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Yes yes yes….its the desert here in Central Oregon and water is gold.
    Deer Haven Ranch, needs this badly, this can be I figure another source for the ponds and or the shower house. Add on to this a graywater system and you have the most sustainable flow from sky people and then plants and animals.
    Keep these wonderful notes a coming
    Sweet Medicine

  2. I had a 250 gallon rain harvesting system installed by Oregon Rain Harvesting in my home in West Linn. I use the water for washing my car, watering my gardens and filling my water features. It works great and is always full.

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