Harvesting rainwater is a smart way to save money, water and to help the environment. Although our ancestors harvested rainwater with seemingly no problems, the actual process of collecting rainwater can be surprisingly complicated in today’s modern times. If you are a beginner to this area, these rainwater harvesting tips will help you to avoid common mistakes and help you maximize the potential of this practice.
Why Harvest Rainwater?
Rainwater falls from the sky and lands on the ground, where it adds to groundwater, feeds nutrients to the land, and increases humidity. But rainwater can be intercepted, so to speak, so it can be used one more time before it reverts to groundwater. In that way, harvesting rainwater is similar to reusing items before you place them in the recycling bin.
Myths About Rainwater
Unfortunately, there are many myths about rainwater that should be dispelled. First of all, rainwater is not pure water. Rain that falls can have just as many—if not more—impurities as tap water. This is because rainwater picks up impurities from the air as it falls. If you’re collecting rainwater that’s fallen onto a rooftop, it will also carry impurities that it got from the roof.
Another pervasive myth is that rainwater is safe to drink. Sure, if you want to open your mouth and sip a few drops of fresh rainfall, there’s not likely to be a problem. But drinking rainwater that’s been sitting in a rain barrel for just an hour could lead to trouble from bacteria or debris that’s contaminated the rainwater.
Determine How the Rainwater Will be Used
Before you start harvesting rainwater, figure out what you will use the water for. This will inform how you store the water. If you want to use it for irrigation or exterior household cleaning, a simple plastic rain barrel will work just fine. If you have a small hobby farm, rain barrels are inefficient, and you’d be better off with a water storage tank with an electric pump installed.
Check With Local Laws
All states have laws or regulations about the harvesting of rainwater; some are more lenient than others. Those with the strictest laws are usually in areas with drought issues. Avoid potential problems by familiarizing yourself with state and county laws before setting up your rain harvesting system. Whether or not you live in an agriculture zone, your rainwater collection activities will need to comply with all laws and regulations.
Have a Maintenance Plan in Place
Stagnant water quickly becomes unusable. In order not to waste the natural resource that you value so highly, have a maintenance plan ready to treat the water and keep it usable. At the very least, you’ll need water filtration to help keep out debris like leaves, pollen, insects and bird feces. Your local agriculture store will likely have the tools, information and equipment to help you implement your stored water maintenance plan.
Rain harvesting not only helps you save money on water bills. It also reduces the impact on local water companies and makes good use of nature’s bounty. With these tips, you’ll be able to start harvesting rainwater in no time at all.