In the summer, watering lawns and gardens can use up to 40% of households’ water use. In the Southwest United States, these outdoor chores can even reach up to 60% home water use. Other outdoor chores such as washing cars can take up 100 gallons when done at home. While all of these are essential to maintain our homes and vehicles, they can be very wasteful and negatively impact the surrounding environment. To decrease this use, you could install water barrels under a downspout at a corner of your house to collect rainwater and use that water instead for outside chores.
Collecting rainwater can go a long way. To put it into perspective, if there is 1 inch of rain on a 1000 sq ft roof that yields 623 gallons of water. Without a rain barrel this water will just flow through downspouts into yards and be wasted.
Benefits of Collecting Rainwater
Besides dramatically cutting back on your own personal household water use, this also reduces stormwater runoff which can collect pollution and infest local rivers and streams and lead to erosion. Also, rain water is better quality than water supplied from the city because it is free from added minerals and chemicals. This makes rainwater more ideal for watering plants, washing cars, and washing windows.
Rainwater Harvesting Laws
Every state has their own laws about collecting rainwater. Some states have very strict rainwater harvesting laws while others may have no restrictions. There are many factors states take into consideration when defining rainwater harvesting laws and legislation. Before collecting rainwater check out your state’s rainwater harvesting laws here:
Investing in a Water Barrel
You can buy a water barrel for collecting rainwater at most home and garden supply stores or online. Here are some resources to help guide your search for a water barrel:
It is also possible to build your own water barrel! For a step-by-step tutorial on how to go about that, visit:
Keep in Mind
Since the collected water is runoff from your roof, it can also pick up harmful debris and contaminants. Every rain barrel should have a screen to filter the water before use. If you are very worried about contaminants on your roof, it is also recommended to empty the first couple inches of rain water collected at the bottom of the barrel. It is also important to note that the water collected in rain barrels should not be used for drinking or bathing.
Sources and Additional Information