The following questions need to be considered when considering purchase of a rainwater harvesting system. These questions will help to establish whether or not rainwater catchment warrants further investigation:
- Is there a real need for an improved water supply?
- Do suitable roofs and/or other catchment surfaces exist or can they be incorporated at your site?
- Does rainfall exceed 15 inches per year?
- Does augmenting your water supply for irrigation figure prominently in your list of efficiency priorities?
Figure 1: Rain barrel schematic
If the answer to these four questions is yes, it is a clear indication that rainwater collection might well be a feasible water supply option. Keep in mind that all catchment surfaces must be made of nontoxic material. Painted surfaces should be avoided if possible, or, if the use of paint is unavoidable, only nontoxic paint should be used (e.g., no lead-, chromium-, or zinc-based paints). Overhanging vegetation should also be avoided.
A rainwater system should be integrated with your irrigation system and landscape plans. Advance research and planning will help you design and select a system that maximizes the potential for your property and pays dividends for years to come.