​Rainwater Harvesting 101

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Rainwater Harvesting 101

Rain Brothers has been living in the commercial and residential rainwater harvesting world for years. So sometimes we forget that suburban or country dwellers may not really understand the process and reasoning behind the practice.

This article will answer a lot of questions that the rainwater harvesting novice might have, including why, where, and how we harvest the rain.

Simple Rainwater Harvest

Harvesting the rain means capturing the free water that falls from the sky in order to reuse it. Usually, the rain is harvested from the roof of a commercial building or a house where people live. The rain runs off the roof and collects in the gutters. Our job is to reroute that rainwater into some sort of catchment system. But what kind of catchment system and what exactly does that mean?

You’ve probably seen rain barrels, if just on TV. As the gutters fill with rainwater and run down the roof and out the downspout, the rain barrel interrupts the water from running into the ground and instead catches it. That barrel usually has a hose or a faucet on the outside. In it’s most simple form, you can just take a watering can, turn on the faucet, and water your plants anytime with the free rainwater.

Rain barrels typically hold about 50-gallons of water at a time. That is one of their limitations; much more rain typically falls than a small rain barrel can collect.

But there are more sophisticated systems that can capture bigger quantities of rainwater. These giant holding tanks are called cisterns.

More Sophisticated Systems – Cisterns

Cisterns date back to ancient times. The Romans had an underground stone rainwater catchment system that they drew upon for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Today, residential consumers can install these systems underground. The water is drawn through a pumping system with pipes that bring the water up from underground to where you need it. Multiple gutters from around the home can connect to the cistern. These holding tanks also can be made of heavy-duty plastics.

Home and business owners can also install large tanks above ground to capture the rain from gutters. Just imagine a giant rain barrel that holds 500 or 1,100-gallons of water outside your home or office. That water can be pumped through a filtration system -- while rainwater is relatively clean, it will pick up particulates from the roof, so cleaning the water is necessary before consuming it.

Why Practice Rainwater Harvesting?

So, how much rainwater can you harvest and why would you do it?

Using rainwater in place of city, township, or well water is a conservation measure that can save you money on your utility bill and provide an alternative to well water. Rainwater can supplement your existing water supply. You can use the water in so many ways, from drinking to watering gardens, refilling fishponds or washing your car.

Harvesting rainwater is just one way to stretch your budget while practicing conservation.

Call Rain Brothers to discuss all the options for rainwater harvesting and making use of this free resource in your home or business.