Rainwater Harvesting

solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in Garden Design

I am currently taking a five week online course on Rainwater Harvesting from two water engineers, one Australian, one Canadian. Even the very first week has opened my eyes to the potential for this unbelievable resource to save our pump electricity, water our gardens, and provide drinking water. A carefully set up and maintained system provides water cleaning services naturally, unlike mains water which requires filtration and chemicals. Millions of people worldwide use rainwater as a source of drinking, etc. water without contracting disease from it. I am hoping we will be able to capture, store and use it soon!!!!

I know in some places this is a contentious issue and that regulations prevent the proper installation or sometimes even the capture of water from the sky at all. There are lots of politics around this, money to be made and fear to be instilled in folks. However, I am led to the experience of the millions of Australians who drink only rainwater and their health is the same or in cases, better than mains water drinkers. There are research studies to show this.

Please write of your own experiences with rainwater catchment systems and thoughts. Regulations, etc.


  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    We collected rain water at the homestead I was on and used it for watering plants, for animals and for flushing toilets during frequent power outages. I'm very interested in collecting rainwater at the house in the city where I live now, primarily for watering the garden. Your post motivated me to investigate and I see the local community college has a class on this in the spring. I think maybe it's time! Thanks!

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    Our instructors are pointing out that treatments at the end of the line, just before use, is not nearly as effective as managing what they call the 'treatment train', which begins at the roof, all the barriers for debris, and allowing a tank to develop a biofilm on its sides and sludge in the bottom. The biofilm and sludge are extremely important components which extract metals, and bacteria, etc. If you were to clean that off and /or use chlorine the biofilm would be destroyed and you would get to drink chlorine!! a poison. Australia does not support the idea of using chemicals to treat RW because of the efficiency of the 'treatment train'. It is fascinating to me. I hope your course covers this, although, I feel North America hasn't really had to use RW enough to learn what the Australians have.

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is something that I am interested in. I've always been confounded by all the regulations around saving water that some places have put into place.

    Here in my part of Idaho, I thought it was funny that none of the houses have gutters...until I realized that snow builds up so fast that they would be ripped off the roof in no time. I wonder how I could work around that?

    Rain gardens are one idea that I really like, even though it doesn't work for drinking water, toilet flushing, etc. https://www.epa.gov/soakuptherain/soak-rain-rain-gardens

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    Mary Linda Bittle

    If you saw our roofs right now, you would know that I totally understand about snow load. When it comes off in one big avalanche it is scary. We keep our cat and dog from walking under the eaves just in case..... However, we have overcome this problem recently by attaching snow guards on our roofs so that the snow stays on there and gradually melts off when things warm up. We don't have gutters yet, but I will try it now that we have the snow under control.

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    By the way, Here is a link to an interesting podcast about Rainwater harvesting featuring one of the authors of the course I am taking:


  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @solarnoon.aspen - When you said "allowing a tank to develop a biofilm on its sides and sludge in the bottom. The biofilm and sludge are extremely important components which extract metals, and bacteria, etc." -

    I wonder if you're describing what we've used for decades: 4 - 8 30-gallon med-blue cans for Watering our plants... into which we dump old plants with native soil. - And nearly all of these plants have won Blue ribbons at the fair, so obviously "Compost TEA" works exceedingly well 🙂

    If that's not what you about, can you explain? - and What Specific metals are you trying to extract ?

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭


    No, this is a different concept. It is not about making fertilizer for plants. The idea I am trying to convey is the collection of rainwater from a roof into a large tank and then storing it there with the end result of clean water that can actually be consumed. The metals are those that leach from the roof or are contained in the rain, ie acid rain, etc. In this process of collecting rainwater and purifying it without using chemicals, the treatment is done with a number of ways, one of which is the biofilm that naturally occurs on the sides and in the sludge that builds up on the bottom of the tank. The biofilm actually eats bacteria and attracts heavy metals and other contaminants and the result is a clean water that is potable. That said, the setting up of the system is of utmost importance and there is a process for that.

    Hope that helps. If you want to hear an intro to this idea, try this link which you can copy and paste (also posted in an earlier comment) : http://thegoodliferevival.com/podcast/65

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