Rainwater Harvesting

Written by Randy Watson

 In a moderately dry region of the United States, the collection and storage of water can be a wise precaution for all Texans to undertake. A very cheap, effective form of doing so is rainwater harvesting. While the term practically explains itself, rainwater harvesting is simply the act of collecting and storing rainwater off of a roof or any other surface catchment, storing it for later use. This method, which is widely used in countries such as China and India, can be used to supply water for both human and material consumption.


Since rainwater harvesting can be used for a wide array of purposes, overpopulated places that suffer from poverty find this method a crucial part of their daily lives, having it become the very backbone of their existence. This liquid harvesting helps stabilize and maintain their economies, as many third world countries rely on farming as their chief export. Merely by acting out its role as the chief supply of water for drinking, domestic, livestock, and irrigation purposes, this simple and concise procedure is beneficial to any one who tangles with it. On top of this, it helps to reduce water bills and storing the water elsewhere can easily replace the use of expensive, hard-to-manage reservoirs.

Urban communities and cities can benefit just as much through the practice of rainwater harvesting. To name a few, this naturally harvested water can help meet city requirements of water levels, increase soil moisture for urban gardening, and help to control and mitigate urban flooding. In all scenarios, the water can be used for flushing toilets and washing laundry.

As with many things, the systems used for this harvesting can either be simple or complex. Simple setups such as a roof, a gutter and a small holding area directly beneath the gutter is a simple yet effective way of storing rainwater. Downspouts and French drains may be used if you do not wish to construct a small holding area. The best catchments, or the surface used to trap the water, have hard, smooth surfaces. Concrete or metal roofing material will serve just fine.

After the water is trapped, a distribution system can be set into place to transfer the water from the catchment to the holding area. Distribution systems can be as simple as a hill or sloped ditch, but the system used by the majority of rain harvesters is the gutter and downspout method.

For the holding area, any depression in the ground will suffice. Preferably covering the concave with grass or plants will help store the water for irrigation uses. If using the water for these purposes, be aware of the fact that the digger you deep, poorer quality soils begin to appear. These poorer quality soils are often unsuitable for most plants used in Texas landscaping. As your ideas and expertise grow, more complex systems can be established. You can add pipes or a drip distribution system to maximize the amount of harvested water.

Once the water is harvested and placed into your holding area properly, treatment of the water must take place before any drinking of the water may occur. Rain water is contaminated with things such as bird feces, dust, and pesticides. Low-cost methods are available to help you decontaminate the water. Your options include solar water disinfection or boiling.

Common maintenance must be applied to your system to maintain maximum efficiency. Tasks that need to be completed include keeping debris out, cleaning and repairing the channels,
keeping up with fresh filters, and, if using the water for irrigation purposes, remember to expand your water basins as the plants grow.

This way of conserving natural water has both an easy-to-understand premise and equally easy-to-build ways for constructing one of your own. Despite any amount of annual rainfall, it is very hard to dispute any aspect of water conservation. It is even harder to argue against a water conservation method that also saves money. In any scenario, rainwater harvesting is a beneficial tactic that will surely survive the ages.