Friday, July 3, 2009

Rainwater catchment part 2

My rainwater catchment system is very primitive. I have a number of 32 gallon trash cans and two "real" rain barrels: 60 gallon barrels that used to house Kalamata olives. These cost $60 from the county who sells them at wholesale prices.

The front of the house is a story or so higher than the back. There is a long sloping driveway that goes all the way down alongside one side of the house. Near the top are two barrels (one real, one trash can), that catch water from the roof gutter. There is no downspout so sometimes the water misses them.

In the backyard, the cans & barrel are lined up under the roof as there is no gutter. This is less than ideal, as it is kind of ugly and is inefficient. It is not helped by the fact that I spread out the trash can lids before a storm to catch more water, but it does help collect as much as possible.

Because the trash cans do not have mesh tops I use this thing called a "mosquito dunk". It keeps mosquitoes from breeding in the water.

When I need water, I generally just fill up the watering can or a bucket and haul it to whatever plants need it. Some of the barrels have spigots installed, so I have connected up hoses and drip irrigation to them, but I don't do this too regularly. I did test it out on the hoophouse one day. The barrel at the top of the driveway is about 6 feet higher than the hoophouse. The water flowed through at a very low pressure, and worked OK except for the end of the line where the flow was very weak. If all the drippers are adjustable to work at a very low gallon per minute (GPM) rate it would probably work better. The other thing I could do would be to put in a T split to make two lines going to the hoophouse so the lines are shorter. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the ends would still not get as much water.

I've thought about putting barrels up on our deck -- the top deck is probably 16 to 20 feet higher than the hoophouse, and the lower deck is 8 to 10 feet or so. The decks are very close to the hoophouse, so the flow would be all vertical really.

The issue with this is twofold: first of all, you don't want to keep super heavy barrels of water on the deck -- you need to figure out the weight and what the deck will safely support; and two, the downspout would have to go direct into the barrel, and then overflow has to be handled, as you do not want a waterfall off the deck.

When I do get a gutter on the roof in the backyard I will need to handle overflow at that time regardelss of where the barrels are. Otherwise it would just pool up in one area and that would be bad for the house or deck foundation. Ideally I'd stick in one of those dry creek bed type things -- you know, a rock stream bed type thing that meanders through the yard. I'd plant lilies or something in it. There's a house up the road that has this and I think it looks awesome.

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