The following questions need to be considered when considering purchase of a rainwater harvesting system. These questions will help to establish whether or not rainwater catchment warrants further investigation:
- Is there a real need for an improved water supply?
- Do suitable roofs and/or other catchment surfaces exist or can they be incorporated at your site?
- Does rainfall exceed 15 inches per year?
- Does augmenting your water supply for irrigation figure prominently in your list of efficiency priorities?
Figure 1: Rain barrel schematic
If the answer to these four questions is yes, it is a clear indication that rainwater collection might well be a feasible water supply option. Keep in mind that all catchment surfaces must be made of nontoxic material. Painted surfaces should be avoided if possible, or, if the use of paint is unavoidable, only nontoxic paint should be used (e.g., no lead-, chromium-, or zinc-based paints). Overhanging vegetation should also be avoided.
A rainwater system should be integrated with your irrigation system and landscape plans. Advance research and planning will help you design and select a system that maximizes the potential for your property and pays dividends for years to come.
Where to Get Rain Harvest System
If you live in a region where rainwater harvesting is fairly common (U.S. Virgin Islands, parts of Texas, Oregon, & Arizona, etc.) you should be able to find system installers in the yellow pages. In areas where rainwater harvesting is not practiced frequently it may be more challenging to locate equipment and installers. Roofing and gutter installation companies may be able to help you locate rainwater harvest system installers.
A substantial amount of information is available on the internet including sample designs and a list of suppliers. Rain barrels are available from a wide variety of suppliers on the internet or at builders hardware and gardening stores. The following web sites should be useful in locating sources for rainwater harvesting systems:
Incentives or Rebates
Some water providers have started incentive programs to promote rainwater harvesting. Offers of free rain barrels have proved popular in a number of cities. In Austin, Texas residents can get a rebate of up to $500 for installing a full rainwater harvesting system.
Check with your local water provider to learn about any incentive programs in your area.