Rainwater Harvesting 101

Rainwater Harvesting 101: What is it, What are the benefits & How to build rain barrels

Source: Innovative Water Solutions, Snohomish Conservation District

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What is Rainwater Harvesting?
Rainwater harvesting is collecting the run-off from a structure or other impervious surface in order to store it for later use. Traditionally, this involves harvesting the rain from a roof. The rain will collect in gutters that channel the water into downspouts and then into some sort of storage vessel. Rainwater collection systems can be as simple as collecting rain in a rain barrel or as elaborate as harvesting rainwater into large cisterns to supply your entire household demand.

All that is necessary to take advantage of this resource is to capture the free water falling on your roof and direct it to a rainwater storage tank. By doing this, you can take control of your water supply and replace all or at least a substantial portion of your water needs. Rainwater harvesting systems can be configured to supply your whole house and/or your landscape needs. P1190344.jpg

What are the Benefits of Rainwater Collection?

  • Rainwater is a relatively clean and absolutely free source of water
  • You have total control over your water supply (ideal for cities with water restrictions)
  • It is socially acceptable and environmentally responsible
  • It promotes self-sufficiency and helps conserve water
  • Rainwater is better for landscape plants and gardens because it is not chlorinated
  • It reduces storm water runoff from homes and businesses
  • It can solve the drainage problems on your property while providing you with free water
  • It uses simple technologies that are inexpensive and easy to maintain
  • It can be used as a main source of water or as a back up source to wells and municipal water
  • The system can be easily retrofitted to an existing structure or built during new home construction
  • Systems are very flexible and can be modular in nature, allowing expansion, reconfiguration, or relocation, if necessary
  • It can provide an excellent back-up source of water for emergencies

Theis, Cindy (3).jpgRain Barrels And How to Build Them
This method is the most common and one that many people are familiar with. This involves installing a barrel at a gutter downspout to collect rainwater.

The actual barrel may be a recycled barrel or a new commercially available rain barrel.

  • Summary: Easily implemented, Barrels are readily available. Barrels don’t take up much space so they can fit into any situation.  Great for storm water control and a backup water source.


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