In today’s world, the need for a greener, more earth-friendly, lower environmental impacting lifestyle is common knowledge. In many countries there are shortages of water. What we take for granted, clean, safe drinking water, is instead a luxury or not even available to some.
It is not wise to take our clean water supply for granted. There are easy ways to cut down on consumption of the potable water supply here in our own country. In addition to contributing to a healthier world, you can cut down on water costs as well. Rainwater harvesting products can help.
A rainwater harvesting system can be simple and inexpensive. Rainwater harvesting is the collection, diversion, and storage for later use of rain. It can be made from at home materials or you can purchase a pre-made system or some combination of both. The most basic systems use the force of gravity as the mechanism for collection and harvesting of rainwater.
Components of a System
The first component of a rainwater system is the catchment area. This is usually a rooftop or some other area where the rainwater can be collected. Care must be taken to make sure that the surface of the catchment is not adding contaminants to the water collected for harvest. This can be caused by paint containing lead. Paint that is peeling or flaking must be watched out for.
If necessary the rooftop can be repainted with a roofing paint labeled as safe for potable water collection. Certain metals can contain lead, chromium and other harmful contaminants. In addition PVC plastics are under scrutiny as possible sources for chemical contamination.
The second piece of a rainwater harvesting system is some type of tank or drum to store the water. This can be a rain barrel, a water proof barrel of some other kind. A large drum or plastic trash can will work. There are water tanks that can be installed underground and there are above ground tanks made for the purpose of storing water.
A ceramic cistern is another useful storage container. Plastic water bags that hold anywhere from 1,000 gallons to 40,000 gallons of water are available that can be stored on a rooftop, a deck or buried underground.
You will need some type of diversion device. This can be the existing gutter system or downspouts. They need to divert the rainwater and guide its flow into the storage container. It is helpful to have leaf screens installed on them. This will begin the process of filtering out leaves and other debris from the rain. There are debris traps that can be purchased for the purpose of filtering out some of the smaller organic matter along the spout system.
First Flush Diverter
A device called a first flush diverter is available that directs the flow of the first and most contaminated rainwater out of and away from the storage vessel. These are inexpensive and simple to install and use. The earliest rain will most contain all the dirt and debris that has built up on the rooftop since the last rain.
The initial rain will also contain the majority of residue on the roof from agricultural spraying and vehicle emissions. It is always best to direct this into your garden area or into an absorption area and away from the storage container. A simple sediment trap can also be used for this purpose.
The storage container should be sealed up to prevent insects, birds and other small animals from gaining access to your rainwater.
There are many filtering devices and materials. The simplest device for filtering can be a large plastic bucket filled with filter material with a tube leading out of the bottom and into another container. This is a very simple yet effective way to use the force of gravity to aid in your rainwater harvesting system.
Fill the bucket partially up with layers of sand and activated carbon. You can stack up buckets with holes drilled in the bottom to keep the filter material separate or combine it into one container.
Additional features that can be implemented include water pumps for forcing the water against gravity or to speed up the flow. These pumps can be installed at various intersections if you have chosen to use piping. There are also paper filters, secondary storage, there are additional requirements needed for should you choose to connect your harvested rainwater into your household plumbing for toilet flushing and laundry. If you wish to purify the water for drinking there are a lot of water purification products available to insure that the water is safe for consumption.