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can anyone help us set up a rain catchment system?  RSS feed

 
Emily Jacques
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We are going to be moving to our 5 acres in southeast Oklahoma next spring. First thing: right now the plan for our home is a concrete dome. I don't suppose there is any way to do any kind of rain catchment with such a creature; I am guessing we will have to have a large storage shed with gutters?

Second thing: where on earth does one find a large tank for rain catchment in that neck of the woods? (literally)

Third thing: I really, really want to use water from rain catchment, if not for household use, at least for garden irrigation (preferably both). Our property has a decent slope west to east. I'd like to dig some sort of ravine that empties into a pond/cistern - probably would get more water that way than a gutter system. But we have no idea how to build such a system - including how to line a pond. Does anyone know of any videos/books out there?

Someone is going to probably suggest swaling/taking Lawton's permaculture course. Thing is, we want it set up by the time we move in - DH will work in Dallas area until our house is built, and besides he is not big on DYI. Anything beyond gutters and a tank we would want someone else to set up for us.

Any suggestions to any of the above questions/ideas will be greatly appreciated.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Maybe 6ft off the ground you can have ring going around the dome house/roof.
Having the ring slanted 7ft off the groun in the north and 5ft off the ground in the south will help.
The rain water off the house would channel into the "ring/indentation" as long as there is no where else for the water to flow.

I would make the ring indentation in the cement/concrete as the house is being built.
Dump all the water on the lower side in a small tank. No filtering so as to increase the flow thru rate
Then pump it up to a higher bigger tank.
I would also do a pre-filter as the water is being pumped from the small lower tank to the higher bigger tank.

 
John Elliott
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Two thoughts: (1) build and underground cistern and put a regular well pump on it or (2) direct all your gutters and downspouts to an above ground tank. Rotoplas is a name well known in Mexico because they manufacture and sell black polyethylene water storage tanks that people put on their roofs, next to the house under the downspout, someplace in the yard that is easy for the water delivery truck to get to, etc. On a drive through a small town with no utilities, the name 'Rotoplas' confronts you from every house and building.

You might also want to search Google for 'natural swimming pool' and study them as a possibility. "Natural" swimming pools are non-chlorinated, ponds really, that have the water chemistry balanced by having a natural ecosystem of plants, minnows, crawdads, and whatever frogs and other aquatic animals that show up and want to hang out there. They are excavations that are lined with something impervious, (to be really natural, you would use clay instead of a polyethylene liner) and have a circulation system to keep the water moving so it doesn't get stagnant and anaerobic (stinky). Usually the pump intake is under rocks and gravel and the return is some kind of waterfall which helps by aerating the water.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Many state universities provide info on rain catchment. I looked up this for you and found.....

http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-8238/BAE-1757web.pdf

....from Oklahoma State.

Since Oklahoma is a big ag state, try calling some ag supply places and ask where you can find rainwater catchment tanks. I'm sure one will know.

Here in Hawaii some people buy above ground swimming pools and put food safe liners in them (if you're just using it for irrigation, then you can use a regular pool liner...far cheaper). It's the cheapest way to go but they are apt to collapse in heavy wind, especially when too full. When i was in Piedmont, i recall it was quite windy. But still, they are popular here because of price and DIY friendly. My own tanks are corrugated steel round panels, sort of like a silo. Lined with food safe liners. Care must be taken to erect them on a proper base, otherwise they can fail resulting in a monster gushing water wave, washing out everything in its path. Mine sit on concrete poured donuts with slightly concave sand bottoms. We erected them ourselves. Took two days a couple of weeks apart, to let the concrete cure enough.

There are water bladders that also can be used for water storage. Some bladders are very large, far larger than a pick up truck. But they aren't cheap. The forest service uses a collapsible, quick set up tank that looks like a pool. They use them for the helicopters to dip for water. I don't know their cost, but that might be something to look into. Plus ranchers sometimes use "pools" like these for remote pasture water storage. They set up tarps for rainwater collection that gravity feed the water into the tanks. Again, ag supply places may be able to help with info.

As for pond liners, they are available but expensive. And very, very heavy. Large equipment is needed to transport them and roll them out. There are several private water reservoirs in my area that were lined this way. 3 that I know of cover close to or a bit more than an acre each. Another one is even larger. But most people have them about 1/2 acre in size.

If you have ag extension service in your area, they should be able to give you all sorts of information about ponds, pasture water collection and storage, and sources of supplies. If not, then try Oklahome State.

Best wishes on your upcoming adventure!
 
Emily Jacques
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Thanks to all for responding. This past weekend, based on the advice of a couple of people who live in the area, we visited a small community about 25 minutes away which is off-grid and talked to a lady there. They bought their tanks (which are HDPE) from Tractor Supply. Although I'm not thrilled about using any kind of plastic, even supposedly "safe" plastic, it looks like our best bet unless we one day break down and build our own ferro-cement cistern. The largest is 2500 gallons, and is a much more economical buy than any of the smaller sizes of rain catchment tanks/barrels that I can find on amazon.com.

Also, we are going to have a 10X12 Tuff Shed build in a couple of weeks, and from there we will start catching rainwater so we can have a supply by the end of the year. Thanks again!
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I was going to suggest ferrocement - it sounds like you are planning on building a concrete dome structure anyway so you will have all the construction materials on site anyway? It makes much more sense to design the two together from the very start. I don't know much about concrete dome structures, but I've looked in to ferrocement tanks.
 
Emily Jacques
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Oops, forgot to update our house plans: we are building earthbag domes now.
 
Michael Cox
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Presumably you are digging the earth from somewhere? can you set up some kind of catchment up hill? A pond and swale to help fill it?

You could supply your grey water needs at least, if not your washing/drinking water. (clothes washing, toilets etc...) as well as irrigate a garden area.
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Do the $/gallon calculations on the tanks. When I bought them for my house, the 1500 gallon tanks were the cheapest so I ended up with two 1500 gallon tanks for less than the cost of one 2500.

 
Emily Jacques
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Michael Cox wrote:Presumably you are digging the earth from somewhere? can you set up some kind of catchment up hill? A pond and swale to help fill it?



A pond was our original great idea. Unfortunately, our property is pure sandstone three feet down. Would cost a ton of $$$ to put enough clay to make it work, and I will not use pond liners - if I don't want to drink water with the chemicals that leach out of it, why would I want to water the food I'm going to eat with it?

And since our soil is so rocky, we are going to have to import sand and mix cement with it to fill the bags...
 
Emily Jacques
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R Scott wrote:Do the $/gallon calculations on the tanks. When I bought them for my house, the 1500 gallon tanks were the cheapest so I ended up with two 1500 gallon tanks for less than the cost of one 2500.



It looks like we'll have to get smaller tanks, anyway, b/c the gutters will be at 7 ft and I think the 2500 gallon tank is taller.

If anyone in the north TX/southern OK/western AR area is experienced in building ferrocement and will come out to help us build such a tank (in SE Oklahoma), feel free to PM me. (DH was overwhelmed at my suggestion that we try to build one ourselves...)
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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If you want BIG, cheap(ish), and (relatively) easy: http://velacreations.com/water/water-storage/313-cistern-howto.html

Abe is a member here and you should be able to PM him, he has been extremely helpful when I have had questions.
 
Emily Jacques
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Thanks for the link! I think what we'll do for now is buy a 1K gallon or so tank, then after we build DH will probably be more confident in tackling DIY tank...we shall see...
 
Dinah Brickel
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Location: Austin, TX (zone 8)
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Hi Emily! We will be installing a rainwater harvesting system for our home that will be built later this year. This system will service our entire household water needs. Here are a couple specifics you will need to know if you want to go ahead with this:
1. You will need 7500 gal per person. For my household of 4, we will be getting a 30,000 gal tank or several equaling that.
2. To figure out how much rain you'll be able to harvest: average rainfall X sq footage of roof X .623

We are having the system installed professionally, since this is for home use. For the land, I have no idea how to calculate what the watering needs would be. I'm sure it wouldn't be as complicated (and costly) a system as it would be for human use and consumption. I would go as big of a tank that you can afford AND that fits the formula (#2) above. For instance, no need to invest in a 5,000 gal tank when calculations only come up to 2,500 gallons of water catchment.
 
steve temp
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Location: Costa Rica 100 meters above sea level, Tropical dry forest
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One thing I plan on doing is building the rainwater tank as High on the property a possible. This I think would even justify building an outbuilding or roof to catch it. Once you have it up high and free pressure for life of materials, life would be good.
As far as the ferrocement, I have a few tanks and they are some work but seem to be good. They will raise the PH of your water unless sealed with maybe parrafin or non toxic pool paint. Also seems fiberglass tanks would be good, haven't played with this yet.
This is the business I dream of getting into. Water everywhere but we just need to figure out how to catch it.
 
Emily Jacques
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Wow, I can't believe people are reading this thread 3 yrs later! Thanks for all the replies. What we've ended up doing is convert a Tuff Shed into a tiny house. This past fall, DH put a gutter system around it and we bought 2 1550-gallon black water storage tanks from Tractor Supply, so all we have to do is let it rain. Because we are extremely conservative with our water use (easier to do when one doesn't have running water, which we have opted not to have), we need only about 270 gallons of water per month for household use. (We've been living on our property since Jan. 29 this yr.) We also collect water in the 2 50-gallon rainbarrels we had in the 'burbs, and this water I use, if necessary, to irrigate the garden. Greywater from dishwashing/laundry goes to the fruit trees.

So things are working for us; thanks again.
Emily
 
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