A well designed rainwater harvesting system can be an effective way to save water outdoors. While few rainwater systems can completely eliminate the need to use regular treated water outdoors they can be a substantial supplementary supply.
Below are some basic tips for best management of a rainwater harvesting system:
- Maximize catchment by repairing all leaks in gutters and downspouts. Keep gutters clear of all debris.
- Trim tree branches that overhang the roof. Branches are perches for birds and they produce debris.
- If possible, locate your storage tank so that it could be accessed by a water truck – preferably near a driveway or roadway. In the event your water supply is depleted, water could be added from a tanker truck.
- If you plan to store rainwater for any length of time a tight-fitting cover is essential to prevent evaporation, mosquito breeding, and to keep debris and critters from fouling the tank.
- Whenever possible, use gravity rather than a pump as conveyance for your rainwater.
- Frequently monitor your rainwater irrigation system checking for leaks, blocked emitters, and other problems.
It may be an obvious point, but without rain a rainwater harvesting system is of little use. In a severe drought where it simply doesn’t rain for months, a rainwater harvesting system is not much more than a lawn ornament. That’s the bad news. The good news is that during most droughts across North America there is still some rain that occurs. Furthermore, with sufficient storage capacity, a rainwater harvesting system can be a great asset in mild and moderate drought conditions.