Quickly, what’s the first association you make when you hear English weather? That’s right, tons of rain yearly. But one must always look for positives, even in the stormiest of times. Frequent rains mean a lot of water. Rain water that can be harvested and used. Read on what’s the best practise and how to optimally put the rain that falls on your roof into practise.
What exactly is rainwater harvesting?
It is the process of collecting and storing rainwater for later use. Simple as that. Harvesting systems range from pretty basic ones (a barrel below your downspout) to some really complex ones that take care of all your household water needs. All rainwater harvesting systems have the same four basic components:
- A catchment area to capture the rainwater – usually that’s your roof.
- A conveyance system to transport water – think of your gutters and downspout.
- A storage system – a barrel, a tank or something similar to store the rainwater.
- A distribution system – to transport the water from the storage to where it is going to be used.
Advantages from using rainwater harvesting.
There are numerous reasons why one should invest some effort and resources to build such a system:
- It will reduce all your water bills since you pay no rain taxes and the water is actually just falling from the sky.
- Collecting rainwater instead of just directing it away will reduce the risk of flooding your lawn or damaging the house’s foundations.
- If you have any problems with your water supplier or there’s a construction nearby you will always have an alternative source of water.
- If you’re using water from a well it can greatly reduce the pump energy and thus once more, save from bills.
What you need to know before you begin.
Before you start crafting your system there are a few questions you need to get the answer to. Firstly, what will be the useage of the harvested water? Is it going to be just for watering the plants and cleaning your patio or do you intend to use it as toilet water and in the kitchen as well? From the answer to this depends how complicated the system should be. Have in mind that it is strongly inadvisable to use any of the rainwater for cooking or watering edible plants. And secondly, how much water do you intend to store at any given time? The volume of your storage unit should be calculated beforehand.
Knowing this you can begin making your very own water harvesting system. You can do it yourself or hire professionals to do it for you depending on how complicated you want it to be. As we said, the simplest of methods is placing a big, clean barrel beneath your downspout and install a water tap. We recommend installing gutter guards on your gutters to avoid debris to fall in the barrel. If you plan to use it for more than garden’s work you should probably research more about the different harvesting systems or contact the UK Rainwater Harvesting Association.
Installing the rainwater harvesting system isn’t all the effort required.
After you are done and connected all of the components, there are good practices and certain do’s and don’ts you must follow:
- Don’t place the barrel near utility services or septic tanks.
- Do filter out leaves and debris from the barrel with a screen.
- Don’t ever leaver any opening of the barrel uncovered.
- Do use a first-flush diverter to reduce contamination.
- Don’t drink the water.
- Do set up an yearly maintenance schedule.