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Old 06-12-2008, 01:38 PM   #1
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harvesting rainwater

So I'll be installing new gutters on my house in the next week or so, and while I'm at it I was considering dropping one downspout into a barrel to harvest rainwater, to be recycled into our garden & maybe to wash the car if I can filter it well enough. Has anyone tried this? Is it worth the effort? It's really not that much effort, it seems, but I'm just looking out for any potential pitfalls that I haven't considered yet.

Things I've already realized and (hopefully) thought through:

- capping the barrel, to avoid growing a bumper crop of mosquitos
- cutting an overflow vent in the top, just in case it fills up
- putting a screen of some type at the end of the spout
- putting another screen at the top of the spout, to keep the junk out in the first place

any other ideas, or some personal experience, would be welcome
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Old 06-12-2008, 03:59 PM   #2
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I'm using my rainwater right now to water my lawn.

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Old 06-12-2008, 04:33 PM   #3
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I don't do it, but here's a site that looks like it may help:

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects....htm#Catchment

If you want, you're welcome to come to my house and take some home.... we've got enough.

good luck!
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by theCase View Post
I don't do it, but here's a site that looks like it may help:

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects....htm#Catchment

If you want, you're welcome to come to my house and take some home.... we've got enough.

good luck!
awesome link, thanks! I think I'm going to go the simple route here (hope to spend less than $100 all told, but I'm pretty impressed with the $1500 system the guy in Oregon had), this helps a lot!

This might lead to some other water-recycling projects (rainwater to fill my toilet, take showers, wash dishes, etc), I love the concept. If I can pull this off I'll take some pictures and post 'em up.
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:43 AM   #5
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Be careful about using untreated rainwater off your roof to take a shower or wash dishes. Bird poo can contain some nasty microorganisms that could make you sick.
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Old 06-13-2008, 07:27 AM   #6
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Be careful about using untreated rainwater off your roof to take a shower or wash dishes. Bird poo can contain some nasty microorganisms that could make you sick.
definitely occurred to me ..a system like that seems to require multiple filtering points of varying microns, not to mention pressurization (if you want a decent shower anyway), heating, treating, etc. It would take some cash initially for sure. I wonder how quick the turnaround would be, as far as a break even point..

Anyway, that's a long way off, and probably a project for a different house. But for now, the simple gravity barrel would do nicely to water the garden. Softer water as well.
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Old 06-13-2008, 10:36 AM   #7
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definitely occurred to me ..a system like that seems to require multiple filtering points of varying microns, not to mention pressurization (if you want a decent shower anyway), heating, treating, etc. It would take some cash initially for sure. I wonder how quick the turnaround would be, as far as a break even point..

Anyway, that's a long way off, and probably a project for a different house. But for now, the simple gravity barrel would do nicely to water the garden. Softer water as well.
Small size UV and Ozone equipment can be had for relatively inexpensive prices.

In my last job, I designed, built, and put into operation a 2000 gallon water tank for testing low-pressure vessels. I bought the smallest UV and Ozone systems I could find. Seemed to work pretty well, the water never got infested with critters or anything like that. No filtration either (although I did install a filter basket in the event we needed to filter). Also had a small 1/4 hp water pump to circulate the water (which is mandatory for the UV and Ozone systems).

I've thought about a rainwater harvesting system myself, but I haven't figured out a way to make 1 bank of water tanks. Furthermore, I would think a pump, UV, and Ozone systems would all be needed to keep the water clean as well as move the water to its point-of-use.
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Old 06-14-2008, 11:09 PM   #8
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My grandmother had a farm. The house gutters drained into a fairly large cistern. She had a pump that pressurized the water in the house. And we drank from it. But this was before the 21st Century turned everybody into weeney hypochondriacs.

Another source of water I've been meaning to try is condensate from the air conditioner. It has the advantage of being plentiful during the part of summer when rain is scarce (except this year when we're 13 inches over normal rainfall). But normally, we would be getting into the dog days by now. The rain would be scarce, but the A/C would be providing a fairly steady stream of water all day.
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Old 06-15-2008, 08:39 AM   #9
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Food for thought:
When i collect rainwater ithat came off my roof, ,it is brown/slightly red. About the same color you would get if you put a little "Henry's" tar style patching compound in water. I always wonder if this is from the asphalt-fiberglass shingles. Of course this is already going in the yard, but i'm not so keen on putting it directly food plants and i would prefer it not in my yard at all. One reason i am thinking about replacing my roof with metal when the time comes. The color may also be from the redwood debris that land on my roof. Maybe someone else has collected water from a asphalt-fiberglass roof and can report on the color? I have also considered using 55 gallons plastic drums you can often get for free and put a line of these buried behind a retaining wall.
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Old 06-16-2008, 06:07 AM   #10
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We collect from three different roofs, and store about 2500 gallons, which we use for garden and orchard irrigation when needed. We strain leaves etc out as it comes off the roof, and filter it as it comes out of the biggest tank (1600 gallons) and goes to drip irrigation (which is still being set up). Most of it we use to fill watering cans, etc., as we plant in the garden and orchard. I'm not particularly concerned about contaminants in the water, as dust and bird poop get on everyting, sooner or later.
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