What Is Rainwater Harvesting?
Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting and storing rainfall. It is an old practice that has seen a recent surge in practice in urban, and urbanizing, areas. Upcoming Rain Barrel Building classes will be posted on the City Calendar.
How do I harvest rain at my home or business?
Harvesting rainwater is fairly easy. Homes and businesses equipped with gutter systems need only connect the downspouts from the gutters into a rain barrel. A rain barrel is some form of storage container. The opening for the downspout should be screened to prevent large debris, but more importantly mosquitoes, from entering the rain barrel.
Typically, a rain barrel is also equipped with some sort of spigot for connecting to a garden hose. Homes and businesses without gutter systems would need to install the gutters before harvesting rainwater.
Why would I want to harvest rainwater?
Harvesting rainwater helps lower the impact of urban areas on the environment. One of the results of urbanization is a dramatic increase in impervious areas, spaces that will not allow rainwater to soak into the soil. This increases the amount of water flowing overland, leading to more eroded stream banks, increased flooding and several other problems. Collecting the water from rooftops helps to reduce this impact.
Once harvested, rainwater can be used for irrigating lawns and landscapes, and other plants. This water can also be used for the incredibly important function of watering around foundations, which helps to decrease the chance the foundation will fail. While there is the initial cost of equipment, there will be long-term savings from using harvested water for irrigating lawns, landscapes and foundations.
Using harvested rainwater keeps the demand for municipally treated water down. Keeping this demand down helps to keep drinking water rates lower, and reduces the need to expand or build new treatment facilities.
The Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Cooperative Extension Service have more information on rainwater harvesting.