Too much or not enough.
No, I’m not referring to time on your hands, I’m talking about rain.
We can count on about 30 inches of rain per year in this area. Although there are days when it may seem that the rain will never stop, you can be sure it will. There are many years when we don’t have enough rain, water restrictions may go into effect on public water systems, gardens wilt, lawns wither, creeks fade and shorelines expand. Other times, it seems that we may get more than our share of rain – all at once – then nothing again for weeks.
A rain harvesting system may be just the thing to help bridge the gap between cloudbursts.
Harvesting the rain with a catchment system can be as simple as a barrel or tank, or elaborate as a drainage system, underground cistern, pumps and distribution set-up.
According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, up to 40 percent of household water consumption in summer months is used for lawn and garden watering. A method to harvest rain water can provide many gallons of free water. Just one 50 gallon barrel can save most homeowners over 1,000 gallons of water during the peak summer months.
In addition to cost savings, a rain barrel provides the convenience of a water supply to areas that may not have another water source; such as a barn, shed or other structure – or even a corner of your deck or garage. There are “package” rain barrel systems that can be purchased complete with filters, spigots and downspout adapters that attach to standard roof gutters. Not constrained by the likeness of a barrel, there are catchment containers that look like large planters, urns, stone or brick columns, even collapsible containers. Also, there are plenty of homemade and do-it-yourself plans available.
Rain water is usually quite pure. Roofs and gutters, however, are exposed to animals, insects and bird waste. For this reason, roof captured rain water is generally not considered potable water.
When considering placement for your rain barrel, remember to keep in mind the weight of the container when it is full, and remember that unless you plan to use a pump, gravity will provide the force of flow from the system, so a stand of some type is recommended to give the barrel some height. Rain barrels are great for use with a soaker hose to water flower beds and landscape plants.
For winter, the downspout or other inlet tubing should be removed and the rain barrel should be drained. Other than that, there are not really any maintenance concerns. Also – there’s no water bill. Harvest the rain, catch the rainbow.