For centuries, collecting rainwater has been a practice that is crucial to the very survival of many rural villages and communities. While at least for the moment, most of us don’t need to collect rainwater to survive, that might not always be the case.
As many of you know I’m really big into emergency preparedness and I spend a lot of my time either writing about prepping or prepping for a day that might come when I’ll need to survive on my wit’s and my emergency supplies.
We have a well at our house but let’s imagine that the power were to go out due to some catastrophic event and it stayed out for an extended period of time. As part of our emergency preparedness plan, we are stocking up on water but that will only last so long. Having a rainwater harvesting system in place could go a long way towards making life much easier to survive after a doomsday event has taken place. You just may find that the water you collect in your rain barrell is the only water you’ll be able to get in some cases.
What Are Rainwater Harvesting Systems Made Up Of?
There are a few main components used in rain water collection. Let me take a minute and introduce them to you one at a time.
Catchment – The first component is some kind of a rain catcher surface. The most common surface used to collect rainwater is someone’s roof because it has a large surface area. The larger the surface area, the more water your rainwater collection system will be able to collect.
Debris Strainer – You’ll also want some kind of a screen that will keep things like leaves, twigs, and other large contaminants out of your water.
Gutters – Most modern homes already have rain gutters installed on them so you shouldn’t have much of an expense when it comes to this aspect of installing a rain harvesting system. Essentially, the rain gutters will serve as a pipeline to make sure that the rainwater that you are trying to collect ends up in your rain barrels.
Conduits – Depending upon where you have your rain barrels or rainwater cistern installed, you may need to make use of conduits which are essentially just pipes that are used to transport the rain water that you collect from the gutters to your rain barrel or rain cistern.
Rainwater Storage Tanks – In order to be able to make use of rain water after the storm, you’ll need someplace to store it. This can be done on a very small scale in simple rain barrels. On a much larger scale, large commercial water cisterns or tanks can be purchased and installed that have the capacity of storing thousands of gallons of water. We have two; One will hold 1500 gallons of water and the other will hold 450 gallons.
Diverter – Depending upon the size of your rain water storage tanks, there may come a time when they are no longer able to hold water because they’re full. For occasions such as this, it’s important to have a diversion system in place that will divert the water to an alternate location to prevent a backup of water and flooding problems.
Filtration – Your intended use for the rain water that you collect may be quite different than someone else’s intended use. Some people, such as ourselves, plan to use rainwater for things like watering livestock and gardens. If you plan to drink the rain water that you collect, it is probably a good idea to have some type of a filtration system in place. Even then, it may still be wise to purify the water somehow before drinking it.
Note: Depending upon how you intend to use the water that you collect, it may be a good idea to install some kind of the “first flushing” diversion system so that the dirty rainwater from the first storm of the season doesn’t end up in your rainwater collection tanks. The idea is to let the first rain wash or “flush” your roof so that it is free from contaminants and pollution that it may have accumulated throughout the year.
Why I Think Having a Rain Water Harvesting System in Place Is a Good Idea
You never know when your water supply will run out. I’ve talked about this before and I’m sure I’ll talk about it many times again in the future. If your water supply were to suddenly be shut off, most people would find that even if they had water stored for emergencies, their supply wouldn’t last very long. This is especially true if you have plants, gardens, or large animals that need to be watered.
I like to think of a rainwater harvesting system like a supplemental insurance plan that could help you during a natural disaster. I consider it a supplemental insurance plan instead of a primary insurance plan because there are a variety of factors such as the time of year that would dictate whether or not it would be of any use to you in providing water during an emergency.
Before I sign off, I should point out that in some parts of the US, it’s actually illegal to set up even a simple rain water barrel to collect rainwater. Be sure and check with your local building department to find out it rainwater harvesting is legal where you live before doing so.