Rainwater Harvesting

How to Most Effectively Collect Rain Water

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Collecting rain water should become a priority for every property owner, whether residential or commercial. Just like it is normal to think of planting a beautiful landscape surrounding your structure, it should be normal to think of rain water collection as an extension of your landscape irrigation system.

There are various ways that can be employed in the collection of rain water. The most ideal method depends on the climate you are in, the type of landscaping you have (or are planning to install), the rain patterns throughout a one year cycle, your budget and your desired level of maintenance.

The first and most cost effective way to collect rain water is to store it directly in the ground. This can be done by creating retention basins with the soil in your landscape. Because this process is fairly involved, and can be disruptive to existing landscape, it is usually best to install these simultaneously. The retention basins are sized according to the size of the area to be drained and the amount of rainfall expected on a single rain event. The goal is to create an area that is able to collect water and allow it to infiltrate (percolate) into the ground within a 24 hr. period or less. These basins are then covered with mulch (wood chips and other organic matter) and are practically not visible from the surface. Landscaping is then installed in and surrounding these areas according to their water needs and preferences. The mulch will keep the ground covered and it helps minimize the amount of water that will evaporate through the surface.

These systems are often referred to as rain gardens and the vegetation that is best suited for them are native and local plants that are accustomed to the local weather patterns and the ebb and flow of the local rainfall.

This effectively functions as an underground water reservoir and plants have direct access to the water as needed.

Another option for collecting rain water is to store it in above- or below-ground cisterns. This option can prove more costly but it allows for more control over the distribution to the landscape. In the same way, the size of the cistern is established by the area of water to be collected, the amount of rainfall expected as well as the rain cycles throughout the year. In this case, in fact, it is important to account for the cyclical rhythm of rainfall especially if in your area there are long spells of dry months. In that case it is important to decide what your goal is: are you interested in supplementing water for as long as it lasts or for the whole dry period?.

Care should be taken to check with your local jurisdictions to verify whether the installation of cisterns require a permit. Keeping in mind that most of the time the larger tanks do require permits. Of course this is not a problem when this type of system is integrated with a larger scope construction project.

In both cases it is important to estimate a water budget when designing your landscape and the goal is always to know what the water needs are and then direct any of the resources we receive with rain towards meeting those needs as closely as possible.

Of the two systems the rain garden usually results in less maintenance.

In both cases proximity to the collection area is important and can present opportunity for creative and interesting solutions.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of (or need some reasons why to implement) rain water collection make sure to read “Drought and the Wisdom of Collecting Water”.

Article Source: How to Most Effectively Collect Rain Water – EzineArticles.com

Drought and the Wisdom of Collecting Water

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It is easy in this day and age to question why anybody should do any “extra work”, anything beyond ones duties, when those duties are already overbearing on everyone’s schedule.

It is however in times like these, with a drought in full effect and threatening to last a few more seasons, that we might all be a little more willing to look at alternatives.

I remember learning about the natural water cycles when I was in elementary school.


Image from USGS website

Do you remember? When we were shown how water evaporates from the soil, from the ocean, streams and plants themselves (evapotranspiration), it collects in the air and when it reaches certain conditions it organizes itself into clouds, it condenses, it rains and then seeps into the ground, hence recharging the underground aquifer and starting the whole process all over again.

Of course this is a very simplified version of the complex weather systems that surround us. When thinking back to that simple scheme, however, it is easy to identify where in today’s urban layout and developing cities there is no more space for the water to “seep” back into the soil. Due to the large amounts of roof areas and pavement covering streets and parking lots, in fact, one of the main elements of urban design these days has to do with “storm water management”. Its function is to prevent flooding from happening and therefore it directs, re-directs and concentrates water into larger and larger volumes. All this calls for ever-growing water drainage channels ultimately, and ideally, discharging into the ocean.

The main problem with this practice is that it disrupts the normal local cycle the water would usually circulate in because it is taking water away from the area and discharges it sometimes tens of miles away from the area it fell in. In addition, along the discharge pathway it tends to collect numerous pollutants and concentrating all of them at its point of discharge, in the ocean or other water stream.

How would the urban landscape change if water were allowed to infiltrate the ground in specific and designated areas? Would there perhaps be more vegetation? Would it reduce the funds directed to drainage projects. That could drastically improve the aesthetic and overall experience of cities.

And how would your life be affected if you participated in this practice and collected a lot of the water that fell within your sphere of living?

In a time of drought emergency many municipalities try reducing the overall amounts of water used. That usually translates into restrictions to the customer’s usage and in extreme cases even fines for watering landscapes. So, the first thing to be affected is the landscape. And how much have you invested in your landscape? I bet nobody really likes to see that investment wither and wilt along with each plant.

So here are the reasons why everyone should be interested in, not just saving water, but collecting it.

  • It will allow water to be stored into the ground, where, when properly mulched and covered, it will be available to the plants in the long term (even well into dry periods).
  • In ground storage ultimately reduces the amount of required watering on a regular basis, hence reducing your water bill in normal times.
  • It can help keep your landscape alive even in a time of water shortage (protecting your investment).
  • If you collect the water in cisterns you can also control and distribute the water based on your landscape needs.
  • It reduces the amount of water running off your property lightening the load on drainage channels.
  • It reduces the amount of pollutants reaching the ocean or other water stream.
  • Maximized efficiency: collecting and using resources at point of “delivery” (without exporting “storm” water and importing “sprinkler” water for a price).
  • Cleaner water (no chemicals added as in many municipalities).
  • Replenishing aquifers (that some municipalities rely on).

Water is life. Keeping local water closer to home would contribute in enhancing your life and improve the aesthetic and overall experience of your surroundings.

Next time you consider implementing projects around your home or commercial property don’t forget to consider adding a rain water collection system.

Article Source: Drought and the Wisdom of Collecting Water – EzineArticles.com