6 Methods for Harvesting Rainwater

Choosing the right method for harvesting rainwater is essential to making your urban homestead more sustainable.

| April 30, 2014

Harvesting Rainwater

Building your own water barrel is one method for harvesting rainwater that is sure to lead to a more sustainable urban homestead.

Photo by Fotolia/alisonhancock

Written for city dwellers by city dwellers, The Urban Homestead (Process Media, 2010) is an illustrated instruction guidebook for the homesteading movement. Kelly Croyne and Erik Knutzen show how to grow and preserve your own food, clean your house without resorting to toxins and raise animals in your own backyard. This excerpt from “Be Your Own Utility”  gives six of the best methods for harvesting rainwater, as well as instructions on how to build your own water barrel.

After conservation, the second step toward water independence is harvesting rainwater. The number of ways you can go about this might surprise you.

Six Methods for Harvesting Rainwater

Rainwater harvesting is an easy and positive course of action for people in nearly every climate in the world. Living in a dry place such as the desert southwest may make it seem more urgent, but no matter where we live, rainwater harvesting is a positive step toward changing our attitude toward the water that falls for free from the sky. Rainwater can be sent to where nature intended it to go — to the soil.

The most important step in formulating a rainwater harvesting strategy is careful observation of present conditions. Where does water flow when it rains? Rainwater harvesting expert Brad Lancaster suggests working from the highest point in your yard to the lowest point. For most of us the highest point will be the roof of the house, but other high points could include sidewalks, decks, outbuildings, or your neighbor’s driveway. Observe where water goes in a rainstorm or when the neighbors overwater their lawn and ask yourself if there is a way to direct this runoff to where it will percolate into the soil and water your plants.

Rainwater Harvesting Technique 1

Become A Radical Depaver
Our first concern is to minimize the impermeable surfaces that prevent rain and earth from meeting. Your initial step in harvesting rainwater has nothing to do with barrels or pipes. Instead, you’re going to pick up a sledgehammer. In so doing you will eliminate, as much as you can, every impermeable surface that prevents rainwater from getting into your soil where it belongs.

10/19/2017 3:56:24 PM

Ohio actually offers tax incentives to those that harvest rainwater with systems that create potable water. I am not sure why people are under the impression that it is illegal to harvest rainwater. I know that several cities require enclosed and aesthetically pleasant systems that will not breed mosquitoes or look like the Beverly Hillbillies are living in the hood. But it is not illegal, just regulated, like everything else.

10/19/2017 12:44:23 PM

We use a 1000 gallon (imperial) tank to harvest rainfall from the roof although the tanks aren't necessarily cheap. Most people use smaller tanks. We use our tank water for the garden, drinking water and plan to use it for the bathroom but still need the plumbing installed. Perth rainfall averages 28.5 in. (725 mm) most of it in winter. Sprinkler rosters were introduced in 2001 and made permanent across WA in 2007 (2 allocated days per week or 3 days if you have a bore) with recommended limit of 10 mins. We have had permanent sprinkler bans throughout winter since 2010.

10/19/2017 12:52:53 AM

It's illegal to collect rainwater in Michigan and Ohio.

10/18/2017 2:57:20 PM

http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/--- It IS legal to collect rain in Colorado

10/18/2017 2:55:13 PM

It IS legal to collect rain water in Colorado, http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/

10/18/2017 2:55:12 PM

It IS legal to collect rain in *Colorado--http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/

10/18/2017 2:55:04 PM

It IS legal to collect rain in *Colorado--http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/rainwater-collection-colorado-6-707/

10/18/2017 12:40:00 PM

check state and local laws. Harvesting rainwater in Colorado is illegal.

10/18/2017 12:05:07 PM

I live in an area with a lot of food processing plants. As a result There is available for sale 300 gallon food grade plastic tanks that were used to carry flavoring, condiments, cooking oil, etc. to the plants. I have purchased four of these and directed part of my gutter system to them. While I collect the water for use on the garden during dry spells we could filter and treat it for personal use in an emergence. I plan to expand my capacity by double stacking the tanks and also get a little more water pressure from them.

10/18/2017 10:18:41 AM

Rain barrels are no good in the winter. Melt water diverted from them needs to go somewhere, an issue if the ground is frozen. I have dry wells for that - multiple small ones as they are closer than the recommended 10 feet from the house. (Otherwise, they'd be in the neighbor's yard.)

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