People have been harvesting rainwater for thousands of years, and some of the same techniques that were used back then are still used today.
Rainwater harvesting is a key element to being totally self-sufficient, and even though other techniques and sources for procuring water should be utilized, it would be a waste to see water pour from the sky on rainy days with no means in place to catch it.
Following are four proven methods for harvesting rainwater. You can use one of them or all of them at once, but each one has been successful in its own right:
1. Rooftop catchment. This method dates back to the earliest times and may have been the original water harvesting method. There are many variations of this method, but essentially, containers are placed on the edges of roofs to collect the water. To catch the most water, use roofs that are slanted for the water to slide into the gutters, from which it can then be guided into a large container or barrel. To ensure cleaner water, clean your gutters before it rains, install a filter system in the containers, or boil and filter your water elsewhere after collecting it.
The material for your roof is also important. Avoid bamboo, metallic paint, and coatings as they can lead to health problems if the water is consumed. Corrugated iron, aluminum and most tiles will all work.
2. Land catchments. For this method, you use a collection of drain pipes and water storage tanks to collect the water from the ground. This improves your chances to getting a large amount of water, since not only can you collect rainwater, but you can collect water from an overflow of streams or rivers. (Keep in mind that the level in flowing water channels will rise when it rains.) If you can connect the pipes underground from a stream to your crops, this will automatically give them extra water in drier seasons when it rains. Because some of the water will be dirtier than it would be if collected off the roof, this method often is used only for agriculture.
3. Combination storage tank catchments. This method is a combination of rooftop and land catchments. Place storage tanks on the ground with a pipe running up your house to the gutter, and more pipes in the ground to catch water from land catchments. Place a tight lid over the container to stop bugs, algae and/or other contaminants from infecting the water. You can also have multiple storage tanks so that some water is meant for drinking, other water can be meant for agriculture, and other water for cleaning.
4. Vegetation. Vegetation? That’s right. You can alter your plants and trees so that your entire garden or cops can become an efficient water harvesting system on their own. Raise patios in the perimeter around the vegetation and then remove some soil from each of the plants, allowing the water to flow in. You can also shape the soil into a slope so that water that would have otherwise fallen on a street or outside the perimeter will flow into the garden. This method doesn’t supply drinking water for you, but each of your plants will be properly watered when it rains, and you won’t need to install any pipes or water storage tanks to do it — meaning those same pipes and tanks can instead be installed using one of the above methods for your drinking or cleaning water.
What are your favorite rainwater harvesting methods? Share your suggestions in the section below: