Learn More About Rainwater Harvesting, Storage and Usage
In arid areas where rainfall is light and drought is common, large storage tanks can be expensive but well worth the money. If rain falls often in your region, you might consider a smaller system like a rain barrel to handle your watering needs during the occasional dry spell.
Make sure that your rainwater collection devices are covered and tightly sealed. This helps minimize mosquito populations and prevent them from becoming a drowning hazard to small children. Tightly secure your storage device to the ground so that it won't easily fall over. One gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds, so even a half-full 55-gallon drum can be a crushing hazard.
Rainwater is relatively free of chemicals and toxins when it leaves the clouds, however dust, leaves, bird droppings or bugs from your roof can easily be washed into your conveyance system (the gutters and downspouts). Keeping your storage tank free of this debris is critical if you want to maximize water pressure and the longevity of the rainwater system.
A simple metal mesh screen is ideal for filtering out larger debris, and a second fine screen at the mouth of the storage tank will help keep small critters out of your watering supply. Be sure that the filtering screens are readily accessible to make cleaning and maintenance easy.
Once you have filtered the water in your rainwater storage tank, you can retrieve it with a manual hand pump, electric pump or through a spigot. Most of the rainwater storage tanks available to homeowners come equipped with a standard garden spigot near the bottom of the tank where you can easily hook up a garden hose.
For larger irrigation systems or systems where most water is stored below grade, a pump is generally required to get the water out of the storage tank. There are two types, manual and electrical. Hand pumps require manual energy and aren’t as convenient as electrical pumps which cost more, but will enable you to water plants in a raised or hanging location with ease.
With a rainwater harvesting system, the water must be moved from the collection system to the filtration and storage tank before you can use it. For standard roof-collecting systems, gutters are the first part of the conveyance stage. The most common place to tap into a conventional gutter system is at the downspouts. From there the water can be diverted directly into a rain barrel or storage container.
You can cut the existing downspout and attach it directly to a filtering device, or you can install a downspout diverter to direct excess water down and away from your home when the rain barrel is full.
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