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Rainwater Catchment 101

rain water collectionCollecting water may not have been something that has ever crossed your mind but once you begin thinking about it, you will become more aware as to why it is so important.

In uncertain times, having water gives you the basics of survival and through its use, we are able to tend to a variety of tasks from basic drinking through to growing food and bathing. By using a rainwater catchment method, you can be sure that you have water for an emergency as well as a continual day to day supply.

If you are new to rainwater catchment or even for those who simply want a little more information, this detailed guide will provide you will all the information you will need to get started.

What Is Rainwater Catchment?

OK, so before we get started, it is important to know exactly what we are talking about when we refer to rainwater catchment. The term simply refers to the collection of natural rainwater as a main water supply or back up in case of an emergency situation.

In traditional methods, the rainwater is collected as it runs off the tops of physical structures such as the roof of your home, making it a pretty easy way of catching the water. The rainwater can be collected through a variety of different channels, but we will take a closer look at this later on.

Why Would You Want To Collect Rainwater?

Rain water collection

At first thought, you might think that there is little reason to go to the effort of collecting water when it flows directly out of a faucet. However, if there were ever to be an emergency situation, you would be very grateful for any water you had collected.

Aside from this, you might decide to supplement your current water supply with water which you have collected from a natural source such as the rain. It is not surprising to learn that human beings are getting through water supplies a lot more quickly than we should be, with many third world countries having extremely limited access to clean water. In some cases, no clean water is available at all. Water is a precious resource and by finding it naturally, you will be contributing to the environment, which is never a bad thing.

Are There Other Benefits in Rainwater Catchment As Opposed To Tap Water?

On top of being at an advantage in an emergency and helping to conserve precious water reserves, there are plenty more benefits that can be gained from installing some form of rainwater catchment in your outdoor space. Tap water is an extremely beneficial resource but natural rainwater certainly has the upper hand.

  • Collecting rainwater comes with absolutely no charge, the water itself is totally free.
  • Rainwater is a clean source of water.
  • Rainwater catchment allows you to be more self-sufficient and independent.
  • Even when using a piece of rainwater collecting technology, the maintenance is simple and easy.
  • Many rainwater collection systems are easy to move and reconfigure should you need to.
  • By collecting rainwater from your home, you will be able to tackle any drainage problems which may have been causing problems.
  • When using rainwater for growing plants, it is much more beneficial as the water has not been treated with chemicals.
  • Rainwater catchment allows you to be in control of your water supply.

Is There A Limit?

Of course, if we were all to collect all the rainwater, all of the time, there wouldn't be enough for the land to thrive. So, with this in mind, it is essential that you make yourself aware of any restrictions in your local area.

While state governments will be extremely keen for residents to harvest water, they also must be sure that sourcing it is done responsibly and your local, state, or federal government will be able to provide you with details of any local restrictions.

What Can Rainwater Be Used For?

There is a wealth of uses for the rainwater that you collect, and whether you decide to conserve it for use in an emergency or use it alongside your regular water supply, you will find that it is extremely versatile.

In the simplest terms, there are three main uses for rainwater, these are indoor, outdoor, and for irrigation. Many people opt to simply use their main water supply for drinking and supplement this by using rainwater for other purposes. Let us take a more in-depth look at some of the excellent uses for collected rainwater.

Use in The Garden

If you are looking to gain an additional water supply for the garden, there are many things that it do for you. You might consider using the water for any of the following reasons.

  • Filling up a swimming pool
  • Water for ponds or other water features in your outdoor space
  • Watering plants, lawns and other garden life
  • Cleaning cars, trucks and vans
  • Water for cleaning your pet
  • Outdoor cleaning such as driveways, walkways, and walls

Use in The Home

Bringing your collected rainwater into the home can provide many benefits, as we mentioned before supplementing your drinking water is an excellent way of making use of any water you collect, here are some of the things you might use it for inside the home.

  • Cleaning tasks
  • Washing clothing
  • Flushing your toilet
  • A drink for your pets

Types Of Rainwater Catchment

No matter whether you want an advanced rainwater collection system or something a little more simple, there are a wide range of options to consider. What you will use depends on a variety of factors such as:

• Size of the property
• Size of the outdoor space
• Budget
• Aesthetic preference

We are now going to take a closer look at some of the best ways to harvest your rainwater. All of these are effective and will provide you with a good supply of fresh, clean water on a regular basis.


The Rain Barrel

A rain barrel is the most easily recognizable form of rainwater catchment since this is the one that many people opt for. Whether you choose to purchase specifically made rainwater barrel or simply use one which you already have lying around is completely up to you, both are fine.

This method is quite easy to use and allows you to simply place your barrel below a downspout on your property.

This is the perfect method for those who are just starting out as it gives you an easy introduction into rainwater catchment. The only real downside to this method is that the barrels tend to have a smaller capacity, however, there is the option to place more than one barrel.

The Wet System

This more complicated method may require some extra work to install but it will supply you with a much more plentiful harvest. Underground pipes must be located for this method and this will allow you to connect many downspouts and gutters to the system.  Pipes that carry the water to the tank are put out of sight underground. Once the pipes reach the tank, they come back above ground and connect to a riser, which allows the water to flow into the tank. The pressure of the water pushes it up into the tank.

The downside to this method does come in with a higher startup cost but once it is in place, it will serve you for many years. On top of this, the system is usually located away from the home itself, meaning that there won't be any eyesores in views.

The Dry System

The final type of common rainwater catchment is the dry system which works by installing a larger version of the traditional rain barrel, however, in this instance, the barrel is filled from the top, allowing the pipes to dry out, hence the name.

For those who do not wish to ruin the aesthetic of their home, a large barrel placed right next to it might not be the ideal solution. That being said, there are more advantages to this system and so it is worth considering. For example, the dry system is able to hold much larger amounts of water than the rain barrel and is cheap to install and easy to maintain.

Can I Drink My Rainwater?

While rainwater is ideal for cleaning, gardening, and irrigation there are some people who may want to go all the way and replace their drinking water with rainwater. However, it is important to be aware of whether this is safe to do so or not.

While most rainwater is probably exceptionally clean and OK to drink, since it has been stored in a container for an indefinite period of time, it is vital that you take precautions before drinking any of your collected rainwater. This can be done in a variety of ways.

  •  Your rainwater for at least a minute will help to minimize any bacteria or pathogens that may be present within it. You can boil the water as you need it, or you can boil it and store it inside a sealed container for use at a later date.
  •  Your rainwater will also make it safe to drink, however, we are suggesting that you simply add some bleach and take a swig-this will make you sick! Using Add 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water and allow to sit for 24 hours. This small amount of bleach will be enough to clean the water and the time-lapse will be sufficient to allow the bleach to dissipate, therefore eliminating the risk of illness.
  •  The rainwater can be done from the source by installing a filter directly into your collection vessel.


Using a method of rainwater catchment is not only easy to install and maintain but will also provide you with an alternative water supply that can be used for a wealth of things. You might choose to supplement your regular water supply using rainwater catchment or you might opt to save it so that you have water for an emergency.

Having water is essential to our survival and in an emergency situation it is the first thing we should ensure that we have access to. The choices for rainwater catchment are excellent from a basic barrel to a more complex underground system and each of the choices will be highly effective in your rainwater catchment venture.

Check out these articles about resourceful living:

Composting--Emergency Water Storage


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