Rainwater collection is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to make the most of your properties natural resources. Rainwater collection may sound complicated and expensive but in actual fact, if you have a house with a roof and gutter system then you have already accomplished a major step in harvesting your own rainwater.
Houses with a gutter system generally divert the water to one location on each side of the roof. These are the points at which you will be placing a barrel to collect the diverted rainwater. If you are on a tight budget then start with the larger side of the roof first.
Choosing a barrel is quite simple, to start you need about a 200-500 litre (55-130 gallon) barrel or drum. The barrel needs to have an external pipe and valve so that you can connect a hose in order to water your garden or decant water into a bucket for use around the house. It also needs to have a hole in the top or the lid into which the gutter down-pipe can be channeled in order to fill the barrel.
When considering the location for your collection barrel, firstly look at which portion of your roof will provide the most collected water (if you cannot collect from the whole roof), look for the largest area of the roof which is channeled to a single down-pipe. Secondly look at the height of the barrel, you want the barrel to be as high as possible relative to your garden where the water will be used. The higher the barrel the higher the water pressure will be at the hose outlet. You could build a frame or stand on which to mount the barrel so that it is higher up off the ground and closer to the roof.
Now you need to install the barrel. Remember that a full barrel of water is quite heavy and therefore the surface on which it is sitting needs to be sturdy. Use pavers or gravel to create a level surface. Place the barrel next to the down-pipe and mark off on the down-pipe where the diverter will need to be installed. Install the diverter on the down-pipe and place the outlet into the top of the barrel.
Your rainwater collection barrel is now complete and ready for your first rainfall. Remember that while rain water is generally quite pure, the roof and gutter system contaminates the water as it is collected, the stagnant water in the barrel is also a breeding ground for algae and small bacteria so you should never drink your harvested rainwater without suitable processing first. A water purification system can be bought online which processes and filters collected rainwater in order to make it safe to drink.
Do you have a rainwater collection setup? Let us know how it works for you in the comments section below.