Calculating Your Rainwater Collection Potential

David Trammel's picture

Water is a resource that is important. Figuring out ways to harvest it will be very important. While I haven't used this yet, it looks promising as a way to help you plan things like where to situate gardens, where to place rainwater collection systems, or diverting water flows.

"How to use Google Maps or Google Earth Pro to figure out a site’s rainwater catchment area(s) and rainfall income"

We've got a rainbarrel at the front of the house and a rain-cube at the rear.

We haven't used them nearly as much as I expected, especially since I've bermed and swaled our soil AND spent years building up the soil's water-holding capacity.

They're really for watering ornamentals and food gardens. But if you don't make them easy to use, you won't use them!

You've got to be able to get a bucket underneath to carry water to where you want it.

I keep them for bad rain years when they really shine.

lathechuck's picture

We've used almost nothing else for our numerous indoor plants, and it's become obvious how the mineral deposits on soil and pot were from the anti-corrosion material put into the utility water. For the winter, I have several 5 gallon bottles that originally were used in water-coolers, for drinking, and the weather here (mid-Maryland) is rarely cold enough for long enough that they run out between refills.

I elevate my barrels on blocks or gravel pads, and get the water out with a flexible hose, which can siphon the last bits out as long as the receiving container is lower.

kma's picture

Our project for the last month has been going from 1 to 3 rain barrels. The 2 new ones are on bigger roof areas and voila! They fill up much faster than the old one.

Like Teresa, I've focused on soil building, so I don't use them for much outside some spot watering in the garden once spring has passed BUT I did want a back up way to do laundry and fill the toilet should our muni water get spotty in the next few years.

I am curious if it would be a source of drinking water after a boil and a run through the Berkey but I'm not rushing into experimenting with this.

I would also note that the price of rain barrels has gone up about $100 each since we last bought. Previously we bought a local used pickle barrel that someone had a cottage industry of turning into rainbarrels. It was $50 10 years ago. Now the local version is over $150 making it cheaper to buy one on the internet.

lathechuck's picture

It's been at least 10-20 years since I made mine, but at the time, empty plastic barrels were available for $15 from a local soft-drink bottling plant. The barrels had held flavor syrup, so I wasn't too worried about residual contamination. The beverages are still being sold, so I assume that the barrels are still being used and available (if one knows who to ask). In my case, I had heard that the barrels were available word-of-mouth, so I called the plant, and was routed to the plant maintenance supervisor, who ran the barrel disposal operation.

Bear in mind that even 150 gal. doesn't go very far during a really dry year, but it's great for maintaining an optimal level of soil moisture during a 2-3 week spell of hot, dry weather.