Are you looking for an alternative to municipal or well water but don’t know where to turn? Have you heard about rainwater harvesting and wondered where to start? When you read the title of this article, did you think, “The basics of rainwater harvesting? Now that’s what I need!”?
If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, then you’re in luck! Today we’re going to go over the simplest steps of rainwater harvesting. While the topic may seem advanced at first, you’ll see that the process is easy enough for anyone to understand.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the very basic basics of rainwater harvesting.
Step 1) The Roof
It all starts with the first tool for rainwater collection: the roof. The roof is all that’s needed for catching a lot of rainwater. Certain types of roofing will be more effective than others, but most roofs are primed and ready to be used for rainwater harvesting. Once it starts to rain, the water rolls down the roof and into the gutters. The gutters are connected to a piping system which will take the water towards the storage tanks. These tanks can be above or below ground; either one works great.
Step 2) Pre-Filtration
Before the water can be stored, however, it has to go through the pre-filtration station. Even in the short distance from the roof to the storage tank, it probably picked up some contaminants both big and small. Big could mean anything from leaves, dirt, or other things that can be seen with the naked eye. By that definition then, small just means anything almost too small to be seen with the naked eye. Rainwater harvesting systems are designed to get all of these contaminants out. The pre-filtration station is all about getting rid of the big stuff so it the rest of the system works more efficiently. After this easy step, the water goes into the storage tank.
Step 3) The Storage Tank
The storage tank is the biggest part of the rainwater harvesting system. Tanks can vary in size, but they all should hold a comfortable amount of water. There is more to a tank that just holding water, though. On the bottom of every tank is a beneficial layer of bacteria called the biofilm. It might be strange for something that is supposed to purify water to have bacteria as a part of its system, but it’s for good reason. Its job is to keep the stored water free of contaminant growth. This helps the tank stay odor free as well as slime free. A good water storage tank won’t be gross on the inside.
Step 4) The Pump
Now that the tank has the water, the next part of the system is all about using it. Inside the tank is a pump which has a floating filter intake. This is designed to take the best cut of the water right underneath the surface. The pump then filters the water twice more: first through a sediment and carbon filter which gets rid of particles and organic materials, and second through a beam of ultraviolet light to kill any bacteria. After that, the water is ready to be used wherever and whenever you need it.
Step 5) The Automatic Backup and the Capacity Regulator
The system does have a few other key features that are worth mentioning though: the automatic backup and the capacity regulator. Both of these features help in keeping just the right amount of water for your home. The automatic backup monitors how much water is in the tank in case it’s ever empty. A rainwater harvesting tank should only ever fully empty out if there is a drawn-out period of drought. If that should ever happen, the automatic back-up (as the name implies) automatically supplements the house with water from a secondary water source like the municipal water supply or a well. The capacity regulator takes care of the opposite end of the spectrum. Whenever the water level becomes too high, the capacity regulator lets some out to storm water runoff sites or a groundwater recharge. It’s as simple as that.
The system is designed so that rainwater can be enjoyed to the fullest. Its naturally soft and free of the drawbacks of hard water. To learn more about the benefits of soft water, check out our our previous blog post.
Congratulations! You now know the very basic basics of rainwater harvesting! There are plenty of other places that can be delved into deeper, so if any of this seems interesting to you, why not check out our other posts? Or if this has convinced you to look even further into getting a rainwater harvesting system of your own, click here.