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Rainwater collection

It’s banned in some states. At a friends recently, they had one of those rainwater collection systems. It was similar to this one. I thought it’d be a good idea for watering the garden in the spring. Anyone do this and have some pointers?

31 Responses to “Rainwater collection”

  1. yj Says:

    sounds like one more way to make it on the terrorist watch list.

  2. The Duck Says:

    Have 2 have not hooked them up yet, waiting till spring, but hey if it is of interest to Homeland Security I may go ahead and get a couple of more

  3. falnfenix Says:

    we have a few. make sure they’re elevated on cinder blocks or bricks so you can get under the faucet. get one/some with screens to keep the bugs and critters out.

  4. Tango Says:

    It’s not illegal as of May 2010. I haven’t got a setup for it, yet… but hell, I’ve only been in my house since August.

  5. bluesun Says:

    Despite it being illegal in CO, we hmmm… know somebody who has collected water from the downspouts for a long time. Since they just dump it on plants later, they’re not even disrupting the water cycle. Dumb law. I know they just changed it so you can keep a cistern if you are off grid, which is nice.

    As they say in Colorado, the whiskey’s for drinkin’ and the water’s for fightin’.

  6. Utgrad Says:

    You only have rights to water that comes from the ground on your property. Rain and flowing water are everybody’s and the collection of it is illegal.

  7. Aaron Says:

    If you could somehow rig up a system that collected *all* of the rainwater falling on your property, with no runoff, I could almost understand something like this.
    But to prohibit any collection at all?

  8. Sid Says:

    I was watching This Old House several years ago when they helped with a home in Bermuda. One of the code requirements is that the roof have a water collection system that retained almost all of the rainwater and put it to use in the home.

    They took the opposite view. If water is scarce, then we need our residents to work towards collecting all of it.

  9. John Smith. Says:

    So if I pee on the soil is that a part of their water rights too?

  10. mikee Says:

    Make them look like large recycling bins or compost heaps, or housing for OWS personnel, and no prosecution will result….

  11. Tango Says:

    It is *NOT ILLEGAL* to collect water in Utah on your own property. The video was from 2008 and the law changed in 2010.

  12. Rob K Says:

    I have a 50 gallon plastic food-grade barrel with a spigot through the side under a down spout. The barrel was free, but they can be had at farm supply stores like Rural King for $8-$12. The spigot was under $10. It took less than an hour to put together.

  13. Tango Says:

    Oh, and with this being Utah, us terrorists store 1 year’s worth of food when possible… so the local economy supports our efforts. As such, they’ll be labeled terrorists, too… but MANY places around here sell food grade storage equipment like barrels, filters, spigots, hoses, etc. Fairly cheap, I might add. The setup I have in my head is to have a few barrels on the side (200 gallons worth).

    Divert both rain gutters (which do not yet exist, thank you former homeowners) to the barrel. It doesn’t rain much at all in the summer. 2-3 rainstorms is pretty normal. In the winter, we have a lot of humidity and precipitation with plenty of days where the sun warms the ground enough for it to melt. I’d like to put a platform around the top of the barrel lined with black rubber or tar paper and dump snow on it so the sun melts it and the barrel collects it, too.

    It would be fine for plants, dishes, flushing the toilets, and showers. Add a filter, and it’s even potable.

    To prevent it from freezing, I could put a barrel in the basement and have the outside barrel dump directly to the inside barrel. The only issue I could think of… is how do you prevent the basement barrel from overflowing? You’d need some kind of shut off for the inbound line, forcing the outside barrel to fill up again. If it overflows, who cares? The shut off for the interior barrel could be manual, but automated would be SO much nicer.

  14. Nick Says:

    If using to water food plants, be sure to treat the water, as many rainwater collectors can grow bacteria. Along with water, they also collect mosquito eggs (even with screens).

  15. hilljohnny Says:

    TANGO; install a toilet float valve on the inside barrel to close the feedline when it’s full.

  16. TomcatTCH Says:

    This isn’t all that different than laws against polluting ground water, except in scope.

    Much like the nice fellow down the block dumping his oil change on the ground won’t have much effect on the ground water for the community, neither will his collecting rain water on his property.

    But I have to wonder what happens if it scales. If 50% do it, be it collect rain water or dump used oil, what does that do to the supply for anyone else?

    Does doing this directly harm others? I haven’t a clue, but the question of scale remains.

  17. Fiftycal Says:

    Lots of people around here (central Texas) rely on rainwater for all their water. Google is your friend. Main thing is to have a way to “waste” the first .02 in. of rainwater that may have contaminants (pigeon poop, squirrel droppings, etc.).

  18. Tango Says:

    hilljohnny, BRILLIANTLY simple!

  19. RC Says:

    Even more fun in Colorado Springs, the city tried to add a tax… errr, a fee for runoff based on the amount of concrete on your property. So you couldn’t collect it by law and had to pay a fee on the fact that it would run off into the storm drain system. After all, it’s not like we’ve been paying taxes since G*d was an Air Cadet to pay for things like storm drains and such.

  20. yellowfever Says:

    a solution for the mosquito eggs in the water

  21. Bill Says:

    The EPA is the one that mandated that stupid fee that RC mentions for runoff. Cities must pay a fee, and many have passed it on in the form of a tax. Mine runs about $7/Month for my half acre, even though I have no concrete that actually drains to city streets. My home is surrounded by soft surface, and I even maintain a gravel driveway vs. concrete/asphalt.


  22. Hunter Says:

    Here in SouthEast Alaska, probably half of the houses in Ketchikan are on roof-collection for all household water. Big 10,000 gallon corrugated tanks beside the house, or under it, or under the deck.
    But then, our average rainfall is 13.5 FEET (162″).


  23. Kristopher Says:

    Utgrad: That only applies in states with western water rights … water in a watershed belongs to the first persons to homestead water rights in a given basin.

    In the eastern US, such as Sayuncle’s home state, water rights are riparian, and the property owner has the right to completely impound any non-navigable streams flowing on his private property.

  24. comatus Says:

    Yo RC, the Academy gets to dam theirs up. If they quit, you’d notice right away.

    There are “mosquito donuts” that kill larvae. Put one in a bag, break it into six or eight pieces, and put one piece in each 50 gallon barrel every month. The screen is a big plus, too. Water doesn’t turn shades of green quite as quickly.

  25. Les Jones Says:

    This guy has a super easy design. Trick is finding a local source of those food containers. If you find any let me know.

  26. Robert Says:

    Friends in the Dallas Mid-cities area put in a 500 gallon tank. They say it wasn’t nearly enough.

  27. Linoge Says:

    If you watch, Knoxville/Farragut/Knox have rainwater barrel sales about once a year. We snagged one last year, and made the mistake of plugging it into the largest stretch of roof we have – I could not use the water fast enough to keep the barrel from running down its secondary gutter. Just to echo what others have said, definitely put it on blocks – they are gravity feed (unless you want to spring for a pump), and getting under the nozzle can be hard.

  28. Standard Mischief Says:

    >That only applies in states with western water rights.

    Water right vary from state to state. Even in Hawaii, they’re a mix of common law tradition and tribal customs.

    Generally, in the east it’s wet enough that we don’t worry to much about the runoff from your roof.

  29. Homer Says:

    I seem to remember something about a downspout diverter gizmo that allowed the first few minutes of rain to drain to ground before diverting it to the storage tank; something about filling a “tipover chamber” that acts as a diverter valve. Prevents crud (dead bugs, bird poop, etc.) from the roof and gutters entering the tank. Can’t find it, but google found this: Doesn’t seem to me like there’s enough space in the floating ball chamber to adequately flush the roof and gutters of crud, but what do I know. It may not be the problem I think it is.

  30. JKB Says:

    If you want to go whole HOG, this system looks interesting. Pricey though. Who knew that all those who want to save the world, would also be so hungry for massive markups on Green technology.

    I just so happens that Amazon was trying to sell me this book just this week: Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks

  31. Les Jones Says:

    The debris/poop thing is an interesting engineering problem. Most of the collectors are FILO – first in last out. The first water that goes in is the last water to leave, so the dirt stays in the barrel.

    If you had a design that was FIFO (first in first out) then the first dirty water would get flushed out. Maybe something where the intake carried water to the bottom of the rainbarrel. Then the overflow pushed out the top.

    I thought of an improvement on that design I linked to above. If the bowl was deeper it could trap more sediment. Modify it with a deep bowl. Instead of putting the holes in the bottom of the bowl, put them on the sides of the bowl, up high. As long as they were above the overflow hole on the barrel it should work.