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The Essentials of Rainwater Harvesting

by lillian connors (follow)
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Many places in the world struggle to get enough water for their agricultural needs. Apart from the traditional arid areas, a growing number of regions with moderate climate conditions experience more and more problems with water shortages. As the world population is coming close to 7.5 billion people, drinking water should be treated with the greatest care. All these reasons lead to a conclusion that rainwater is the most optimal solution for numerous purposes.

Roof requirements
First and foremost, your rainwater harvesting output will largely depend on the type of the roof on your house. For instance, a gable roof or a hip roof is a perfect construction for steady water runoff and, consequently, continuous inflow into the tank.
On the other hand, shed or flat roofs will drain away small amounts of rainwater to the gutter. Therefore, such roofs should be enriched with an additional runoff slope, to direct rainwater to the gutters. If you've never done anything similar on your own, you need to know that the minimum slope for efficient rainwater drainage from the roof is 2:12. This means that the roof has to be lifted or lowered for 2 inches for every foot of the flat roof; have a look at detailed calculations here.

Proper gutter protection
If you want to expand the life of your water tank and keep the collected rainwater free of any debris, introducing gutter-protecting features is a must.
When it comes to the gutter tops, it's necessary to equip them with filters. There are three basic solutions for those parts. The first option is a metal gutter filter, placed inside a gutter. It's more expensive, but more efficient.

The second possibility is placing a plastic screen over the gutter – a cheaper, but also less durable option. A metal screen can be an alternative here.

Finally, surface filter is the most expensive option. It's installed on the top of the gutter, letting the water freely flow into the gutter and down the pipe while the debris is directed over the edge, to the ground.

Tank basics
The position of the water tank will have to meet several space requirements. For starters, it should be placed near the area that has to be watered. On the other hand, if that area is hard to reach, the smartest option is to recruit a portable water tank for your rainwater fleet, advise the guys at Rapid Spray.
Except from the placement, the tank material also plays an important role. For instance, if you're on a tight budget, a plastic tank is a better choice than a second-hand metal tank.

On the other hand, if you can invest a bit more, you should definitely go for a large metal water tank equipped with a plastic liner, to protect the rainwater from exposure to corrosion.

Additional features
Directing rainwater from the roof to the tank is not where this story ends. Different problems can arise if too much rain pours into the water tank. This is why you need to add passive water harvesting features to your home irrigation system, and prevent a water loss that would harm your entire effort. For instance, some of the gutters should be left out of the water tank system. What you should do is dig small ditches that will lead from the gutters directly to the target patch of land.

Beside ditches, making swales at the points where the ditches end would be a practical solution, to stop the water from pouring away from your property. These additional features will reduce the pressure on the tank in case of heavy rains, and still deliver the rainwater to the land that needs it.

Introducing and installing a functional rainwater harvesting system is a demanding process. However, when every detail in this system is installed and protected as explained in this text, you can rest assured that you will be able to provide your land and property with as much water as it needs, while contributing to the environment preservation.

All images courtesy of flickr.com/creativecommons

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