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benefits of rainfall collection  RSS feed

 
Posts: 721
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Thanks Rob.
Its very common in Australia.
We do not have the freeze issues that exist in North America, so if you don't have a big freeze problem it will be ok.
Do you want to describe in more detail your plans and I can comment.

Concrete domes usually do not have anyway of catching the water from the roof, unless they are designed and built in from the start.
A lot of the freeform homes build with earth tubes, earth blocks  or even a lot of Middle Eastern houses do catch rainwater.
 
John C Daley
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I found this You tube link to an Off Grid bloke that has managed to catch and use rainwater
He covers freezing ect
capturing rain in the USA
he is in Missouri

Essentially he has the tanks in a building that he heats, with not a lot of fuel according to him.
He will insulate the shed soon and hopes that will reduce the heating needs.
Somehow his taps in the paddocks do not freeze, I can't work out how that is the case.
He states that he doubts the tanks would freeze, but the heating prevents the pipes and valves from freezing.
He keeps the room at 43 deg F

His comment about mixing rain water with town water causing problems, puzzles me, I have never seen that problem.

His reason for catching rain is multiple;
- wells cost $10,000
- wells need power and he is off grid
- it works
- his system cost $3000, and previously he paid about $120 per month for water, so on this property after 4 years he is in front, financially.
 
Posts: 60
Location: Durham, NC
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John C Daley wrote:

Concrete domes usually do not have anyway of catching the water from the roof, unless they are designed and built in from the start.
A lot of the freeform homes build with earth tubes, earth blocks  or even a lot of Middle Eastern houses do catch rainwater.



That's a good point that I mulled over, too. I'm in the initial information gathering stage so I don't have plans.  I've been interested in concrete domes for a couple reasons.  One, we have hurricanes/floods, and two, I think it will be easier to get past the city building inspectors.  (I'm probably building within city limits.)

If I went that way, and wanted to collect rainwater, I'm thinking about building in a trench around the perimeter so that any rain that hits the dome would fall into the ground gutter.  Then be diverted to the tank.  Anyway that is my half formed idea after reading your post.  
 
John C Daley
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Any trench based collection system will be prone to more detritus than a gutter system.
Any gutter system would not need to be in steel, it could be free formed channels that are up the wall above any tank height.
Also, a trench system would need pumps and that is something you should try to avoid, simply because of the expense and potential loss of water if that system fails.
 
Rob Lineberger
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Location: Durham, NC
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Thanks again.  I should have clarified.  I have full control over everything because it is completely undeveloped land.    I was thinking of having the tank (5000 gallons or so)  in the basement.  Making concrete trenches all around the perimeter of the home at the "base" of the house, which would run to a grate, then some sort of percolator (activated carbon?) before it reached the tank.  Then water would be pumped to a higher tank for use in the home.  Again I am just mulling over ideas based on your post but this is a very interesting topic to me because we get huge bursts of rainwater followed by drought here.
 
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Location: Eastern North Carolina, United States
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John C Daley wrote:I think the time has come for me to teach the known world about the benefits of capturing rainwater for domestic use.

And to start a discussion about why it should be used, anybody who suggests it is unhealthy, just has the wrong information.



I have to agree that people have a weird sense about rainwater being unhealthy, or needing a gazillion techie gadgets to make it work.  Granted, this is an n=1 report only, and we do not pump/run it into the house. I simply haul it in from the back yard

Our well pump lost its prime back in March, and I can't get anyone to even come look at it to fix it, even the people I paid over 2K in repairs in the last year.  Contacted the city to find out about connecting to the existing infrastructure, it's a 5K pop for them to drop a meter, and then another 500-1K for me to get line run to their connection.  I don't have kind of money currently.

So my DIY rainwater collection is totally primitive.  It meets the needs of me and an 8 year old boy(this gender has some benefits here, lol) plus a geriatric Jack Russell terrirer   YTD we have 23.99 inches of rain at my location.

I put a 150 quart marine cooler (used from a junk shop 25.00) up on cement blocks.  I covered it with stainless steel screening to screen detritus.  I don't have gutters, so I just picked a place where the water flows down off the metal roof in a rush with each rain, and I have an additional  33 gallons of assorted buckets, plus 40 1-gallon jugs.  I leave the lid off of the cooler, because the one time I didn't the water got very funky and was only good for toilet flushing.  It was at a high pollen count time and I think the lack of air let that stuff get wayyy out of hand.  I do leave the screen on all of the time (held on with little clamps).  I fill jugs or buckets from the drain hole in the cooler, which is about 1 inch above the bottom.  Sometimes I've had algae growth - didn't seem to impact anything except for the color.  When  I know a big rain is coming through, I'll usually empty the cooler into the garden, wipe it out, and let it air dry in the sun if the algae seems excessive.  Lately I've been thinking of adding a second cooler in some kind of stepped set up with a hose to the drainholes (since I couldn't move a full cooler by myself to just put another one under the flow area).

My homemade elcheapo  filter is a plastic fast-food cup of sand and gravel, with a piece of felt on top, and an activated charcoal flat filter below (total cost I think is roughly 10.00)  It takes me about three minutes to filter one gallon of water.  That goes into a Brita pitcher in the fridge for a second filtering.  We've been drinking this for months with no digestive or other upsets.  

I use straight unfiltered rainwater in the electric kettle for my coffee and tea. We bathe in a stock tank with untreated water or, sometimes when we're really flush with water (hah!) I'll run the camping bucket shower for a real splurge.  I've even used it for a sprinkler substitute for the boy to play in outside from time to time.

Until recently, we had received regular weekly rainfall so keeping stock was no big deal. Then, we went to 102+  degree days and a serious lack of rain for about a ten day period.  We got down to our last 12 gallons of water, which was a mix of 'flush' type and drinking type.  I do have a kindly neighbor who will allow me to fill my cooler with his city water, but I've only had to do that once when the well pump froze up over the winter.  Had we not had rain today, I would have probably had to go this route.  I did go to the laundromat this past week due to our water stores.

We have no running water in the house - everything is done by bucket or jug - dishwashing, manual clothes washing, toilet flushing and bathing/teethbrushing, etc.

My garden is really very small, but I've never run out of water in the 13 gallon trash pail that I use for garden hand watering (herbs, greens, a few fruit trees and such)


Hopefully I'll be able to get something done for permanent water before winter comes.  Otherwise I'll have to come back and update on how the cooler method does with snow and below freezing temperatures


Water is something I used to use with abandon, never really even giving it thought.  Now we survive and thrive on what the sky drops down.  It does take thought - every bit of water usually gets used twice except for any grease-filled water.  Bathing water gets dumped to another bucket for toilet flushing, along with dish and clothes washing water.  I even collect the condensation from our one window unit and use it to flush the toilet as well.  

Having adjusted to this method, I did have a giggle when the city said the base monthly billing price ONLY included 768 gallons a month.  I simply hope to keep this mindset when we do get a permanent solution.  Just because water is there today, doesn't mean it always will be.  Anyone could try this simple and cheap method just to see how it works for them.
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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We go months without serious rain here, its normal.
Funny to hear about no rain for 10 days.
Do you have any photos of your place, I may be able to help design something?
Can you get an IBC, one of those 1000L shipping unit?
Some of those are Ok for water to drink and they can be put on top of stacked pallets.
 
S.M. King
Posts: 29
Location: Eastern North Carolina, United States
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John C Daley wrote:We go months without serious rain here, its normal.
Funny to hear about no rain for 10 days.
Do you have any photos of your place, I may be able to help design something?
Can you get an IBC, one of those 1000L shipping unit?
Some of those are Ok for water to drink and they can be put on top of stacked pallets.



I have always lived in rainy climates, so it's difficult to remember at times what other parts of the world experience as normal.  I suppose that does sound funny to you guys, lol, a mere ten days.

The term IBC unit wasn't familiar to me, so I looked it up.  I've not seen any of those appear on Craig's list locally. There used to be a lot of those blue food grade containers listed, but I haven't looked recently to see if they are still around, I think they were 55 gallon, at about 20.00 each.  Those would probably be more easily found than the caged larger containers.

What did you want photos of, the area where I currently harvest the rainwater or...?  

Thank you for your input.
 
John C Daley
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Perhaps the roofs etc where you hope to capture the water from.
IBC are handy because if you get the ones with valves you can screen things too they are easy to work with.
Some have fittings that are hard to find, and expensive to purchase.
 
Rob Lineberger
Posts: 60
Location: Durham, NC
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John C Daley wrote:Any trench based collection system will be prone to more detritus than a gutter system.
Any gutter system would not need to be in steel, it could be free formed channels that are up the wall above any tank height.
Also, a trench system would need pumps and that is something you should try to avoid, simply because of the expense and potential loss of water if that system fails.



I see.  So I can put the gutters higher up on the wall.  Makes sense.  I do not understand what you mean about not needing pumps.  If the tank is under the house, no matter what, some type of pump will be needed, won't it?  Thanks again, this is really helpful.
 
John C Daley
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Not having pumps to get the tank filled is the trick, of course you will need them to use the water.
I see I was not clear about the way I wrote the note.
Are you in a frost zone, is that why you are putting the tank underground?
 
Rob Lineberger
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John C Daley wrote:Not having pumps to get the tank filled is the trick, of course you will need them to use the water.
I see I was not clear about the way I wrote the note.
Are you in a frost zone, is that why you are putting the tank underground?



Im not in a frost zone. It's a matter of gravity. In a dome house the widest collection area is at the bottom. Therefore the tank must be below that.
 
John C Daley
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As the building curves to the ground, the area of catchment lost if you draw water off at say 5 ft would not be much, because the walls are close to vertical at that point.
Volume lost would not be much but the benefit of cleaner water would be worth it I believe
 
Posts: 339
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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Perhaps a way around the freezing water tank issue is to have it architecturally designed into the interior of the house where the sun can hit it through windows in winter – thermal mass for heating, cooling and potable water storage all in one?

Surely it’s been done somewhere, Mr/Ms Google may provide further answers.

In regards to Aussie tanks, traditionally the water offtake is several centimetres from the bottom of the tank to ensure no sediment pickup. Whether it’s galvanised steel or concrete, once the tank ecology stabilises, there are no issues.

Buyer beware though: most steel tanks these days have a lining of plastic film to increase longevity, concrete tanks may have plasticisers in the mix that assist in strength but a potential hazard to humans, poly tanks for human consumption are suspect – I don’t trust long term storage in plastic.

In our climate, water security has always been an issue so IMHO there’s no such thing as too much storage, with the potential for a bore connection for added protection.

In regards to mercury, lead, or other (natural) contaminants in rainwater, town water remains a cocktail of chemicals to ensure it’s safe, sparkly, clear and good for our teeth; so, it’s all a matter of how far people want to overkill a topic.


 
John C Daley
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The use of Archetects is not needed to have a water tank inside the building line.
As for contamination of water by the tank materials, plastic, concrete, steel etc is something always brought up but never substantiated.

As a water Engineer facts rather than assumptions are important.

Half the people in rural Australia would be sick as dogs if there was any truth in those contamination claims.
 
John C Daley
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Collecting dew

These are great ideas Harvesting Dew for potable water

“Collecting rain water is simple, but harvesting dew is very challenging,” Prof Roy told India Science Wire in an interview. “The dew condenser designed, developed and field-tried by us is novel.
Condensers are planar panels made of high emissivity plastic film insulated underneath. They get cooled by re-radiation at night and can harvest 15 mm of dew water in the season.
While condensers are specifically engineered to condense dew, rain can be routinely harvested using the same surface.”
 
John C Daley
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It is a fantastic idea, just plan and move with it.
My partner has family in Zimbabwe and they mentioned the town water supply at their farm is intermittent.
They are white farming folks.
Rose has heard me lecture about the topic of rainfall collection and mentioned the concept to them.
Surprisingly they had not thought of it!!
There is good rainfall in their area, and having installed tanks, they now can wash, shower and bathe etc.

They are amazed how successful it is.
I am amazed it was not normal practise.

The Enemy of progress is the hope of a perfect plan
 
pollinator
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I drain my tanks in the late fall and leave them open until spring. Otherwise the tanks would burst. Since I use city water for all inside uses it's not a big deal. I mainly use the collected water for the gardens and trees. If it became necessary to use them year round I'd be sunk anyway, because of municipal limits on water collection and the lack of water in the area. The tanks were empty by the end of July last year, and weren't refilled until late August.

My "first flush diverter" doubles as a downspout during the winter so there is no water drain into the tanks until I close it in the spring.
 
John C Daley
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I am intrigued by the limits you speak of , with water collection. Can you expand on that please?
With 12 inches of rainfall, would you collect much water anyway?
 
Lauren Ritz
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John C Daley wrote:I am intrigued by the limits you speak of , with water collection. Can you expand on that please?
With 12 inches of rainfall, would you collect much water anyway?



Sure. I have three 250 gallon tanks and a roof. The tanks usually fill entirely in the first spring rains, then the rest of it goes into the ground. I just have to stop collecting during the winter so the tanks don't freeze. I'm already over the municipal limits (100 gallons without a permit), so adding more tanks would be problematic (although I have considered putting them in and just leaving them unconnected until needed).
 
John C Daley
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Why are there limits for the volume of water you can catch?
 
John C Daley
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UTAH STATE LAW:
To collect, store, and place the captured precipitation to a beneficial use, a person must register the use with the Utah Division of Water Rights as detailed in 73-3-1.5.
A person may collect and store precipitation without registering in no more than two covered storage containers if neither covered container has a maximum storage capacity of greater than 100 gallons.
The total allowed storage capacity with registration is no more than 2,500 gallons. Collection and use are limited to the same parcel of land on which the water is captured and stored.
There is no charge for registration.
When you submit this form, your browser will be redirected to the Rainwater Harvesting Registration certificate, which you should print for your records.

MORE INFO
it is not illegal to collect rainwater in America (the United States). ... Ten states have rules specifically allowing the unrestricted collection of rainwater. Only four states have specific restrictions against collecting rainwater : Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Utah.

So the issue is logical in some ways, but because people interpret things, its logical in another way
FOR EXAMPLE
Most people think of tanks etc when thinking of rainfall collection
But that's not the problem.

The problem is when people build reservoirs over hundreds of acres of private property to "collect rainwater," they actually disrupt the behavior of water ecosystems.
This is why water law and water rights management gets very complex.
With a series of dams and ponds, one landowner amassed 13 million gallons of water that would have otherwise flowed to the watershed.

Most places have an exemption for modest amounts of collection for personal use, but the question becomes "where do you draw the line?"
Colorado currently (2016) has zero tolerance for any rainwater collection (It is actually illegal in Colorado to collect the rain that falls on your home​)

HERE IS ANOTHER INTERPRETATION
If you’re talking about putting a barrel on a rainspout running off your roof, that’s not illegal anywhere. It cannot substantially impair anyone’s surface or underground water rights.

Whoever told you that doesn’t understand what they are talking about. To get in trouble with the law you have to collect rainwater on a mass scale: many, many acre-feet of diversion. You have to collect so much rainwater that you’ve usurped an entire watershed, and streams and springs and wells on other people’s property dry up. In that case, if you don’t own all the water rights from that watershed, then you’ve interfered with someone’s water rights just as surely as if you put a diversion dam in the stream, or pumped out an entire aquifer on which someone’s well relies. If you don’t understand why that’s illegal then you must not live in a dry climate, or you’re a city-dweller who thinks water comes out of a tap.

Water is a funny sort of property because it runs downhill, over and under boundary lines, but it is still subject to the law. The details of enforcement of water rights varies from place to place, but it is generally regarded as stealing, and you’ll be ordered to stop doing it or go to jail.
 
Lauren Ritz
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John C Daley wrote:UTAH STATE LAW:
To collect, store, and place the captured precipitation to a beneficial use, a person must register the use with the Utah Division of Water Rights as detailed in 73-3-1.5.
A person may collect and store precipitation without registering in no more than two covered storage containers if neither covered container has a maximum storage capacity of greater than 100 gallons.
The total allowed storage capacity with registration is no more than 2,500 gallons. Collection and use are limited to the same parcel of land on which the water is captured and stored.
There is no charge for registration.
When you submit this form, your browser will be redirected to the Rainwater Harvesting Registration certificate, which you should print for your records.
...
HERE IS ANOTHER INTERPRETATION
If you’re talking about putting a barrel on a rainspout running off your roof, that’s not illegal anywhere. It cannot substantially impair anyone’s surface or underground water rights.

Whoever told you that doesn’t understand what they are talking about. To get in trouble with the law you have to collect rainwater on a mass scale: many, many acre-feet of diversion. You have to collect so much rainwater that you’ve usurped an entire watershed, and streams and springs and wells on other people’s property dry up. In that case, if you don’t own all the water rights from that watershed, then you’ve interfered with someone’s water rights just as surely as if you put a diversion dam in the stream, or pumped out an entire aquifer on which someone’s well relies. If you don’t understand why that’s illegal then you must not live in a dry climate, or you’re a city-dweller who thinks water comes out of a tap.

Water is a funny sort of property because it runs downhill, over and under boundary lines, but it is still subject to the law. The details of enforcement of water rights varies from place to place, but it is generally regarded as stealing, and you’ll be ordered to stop doing it or go to jail.



In order to get in trouble with the law you just have to draw attention to what you're doing. I am NOT registered with the Division of Water Stupidity, and likely will never be. I could be fined for not being registered and still collecting "their" water, even though that water goes straight into the ground. People have been fined for collecting more than the allowed amounts without registration, although I'm not aware of anything more than fines. One lawsuit, which the state lost, after which they implemented their asinine 100 gallon rule (OK, 200 gallons in 100 gallon containers). Prior to that water collection was entirely illegal. The information put out by the DWR says that it's to prevent people from storing large amounts in unsafe conditions that then cause a problem downstream. Water has always belonged to the state in the Western US, and they defend their rights religiously. Using water you do not have the rights to is a criminal offense, even if it comes off your own roof.
 
John C Daley
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Wars have and will be fought ovr water.
Where I live in Australia, massive volumes have been stolen from catchment areas, such that rivers have stopped flowing, so world wide water ownership is challenging.
 
John C Daley
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Rob, how have your plans to use this concept been progressing?
 
Yeah. What he said. Totally. Wait. What? Sorry, I was looking at this tiny ad:
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