Bans & Restrictions: Although it is perfectly logical to collect rainwater in a conservational sense, it might not exactly be legal depending on where you live. While slowly more and more states are catching up to the commonsense notion that collecting rainwater isn't dangerous, it still doesn't come without some legal restrictions. These collection bans and restrictive laws are supported by the assumption that collecting water that would have otherwise became ground or surface water interferes with the allocation of existing water rights. These bans and restrictions are undoubtedly frustrating, especially when you hear about situations like the water crisis in Flint. The question becomes, if we cannot trust that our city's tap water is safe to drink and we are denied the right to collect our own water, where do we get the hydration that is necessary for our survival? While bottled water could be used, the cost and environmental impact associated with it isn't all that appealing. Luckily, Michigan has no bans or laws restricting rainwater collection, although nothing says that can't change in the future.
Changing Times: A study conducted in 2007 by the Department of Natural Resources in Colorado revealed that rainwater harvesting reduced the demand for outside water by approximately 65%. Researchers concluded that rainwater harvesting does, in fact, have potential to be a sustainable approach to water management. As a result of these findings, states that held previous bans, such as Utah, Colorado, and Washington, have slowly started coming around to the idea by modifying bans and loosening restrictions. We won't get into the fact that a study was needed to prove the obvious: that harvesting rainwater is a smart way to conserve water. In fact, just as some states ban the collection of rainwater, others actually promote it! Texas, Ohio, and Oklahoma are just a few of the states that offer incentives to collect rainwater. In Texas, the purchase of rainwater harvesting equipment is exempt from sales tax! Check with the regulations in your specific area to find out if you are breaking any laws by collecting rainwater. You might think that rain belongs to Mother Nature, but check with the laws first to make sure it doesn't actually belong to your government!
How To Collect
Creating a system for harvesting rainwater is simple and relatively inexpensive, especially when considering the fact that you will be saving money in the long run by making it. The three main components you'll need are a catchment area, a conveyance mechanism, and a storage basin. The amount of rainwater you can collect is dependent on the square footage of your roof and the rainfall levels of your area.
The catchment area can be any spot that rainwater runoff collects. Typically, this will be the roof of your house, but it could also be the awning of your RV! The conveyance mechanism is the section that transports the water from the catchment area to the storage vat. Gutters, downspouts, or even piping can be used to fulfill this need. For a more decorative look, check out rain chains. Lastly, you'll need something that can hold your harvested water until you are ready to use it. A rain barrel, holding tank, or any other containment vessel will suffice. You can construct a storage system yourself or choose to purchase one through your local home improvement store. You'll want to elevate your storage system so that it is off of the ground as much as possible. Doing so will increase the water pressure and allow you to more easily access the water inside. Cinder blocks work great for this purpose, and by placing pea gravel below them, you can angel the blocks to better direct the flow of water toward the barrel's spigot. The idea is to raise your barrel or tank up high enough so that you can place a watering can or bucket beneath it. After your system is completed, you'll want to periodically inspect it for leaks and blockages.
Uses For Rainwater
You can use rainwater for a variety of tasks around the house and the RV! Similar to the ways you can reuse your RV's gray water, you can also use rainwater too! More complex systems that are rigged into your home's plumbing can increase the applicable uses, but we've chosen to highlight some of the more basic uses that can be accomplished through standard and simple rainwater collection systems.
- Gardening and Watering Grass
- Flushing Toilets
- Washing Your Car
- Hand Washing
- Putting Out a Campfire
You can also use the water you collect as drinking water, but it must be properly filtered and purified before it is safe for consumption. Not only is it economically smart to collect rainwater, but it's environmentally responsible too! Along with lowering your water and energy bills, collecting and utilizing rainwater reduces your dependency on municipal water supplies. If you want to start living more resourcefully, considering harvesting rainwater. Mother Nature will thank you for it! Do you have any tips, tricks, or information to share about collecting rainwater and using it wisely? Let us know in the comments below!