Rainwater collection system

I meant to add a link in my post yesterday, but was overcome by garden exhaustion and forgot. Meg and Kelly at Future House Farm have a great tutorial on setting up a rainwater collection system. Check it out if you are considering a system of your own.

Rain barrels can often be purchased at a discount through municipalities placing group orders, check your local water district office.  Our barrels came used from food manufacturing facilities and are made of food-grade high density polyethelene.  Check the classifieds or your local pennysaver-type magazine for re-purposed barrels.


6 Responses to “Rainwater collection system”

  1. Vin Says:

    My first thought is about such a systems is about getting water from an old asphalt type roof. What chemicals might get dissolved into the water and then become part of the food? If using it for a potted flower garden that isn’t an issue.

  2. Ali Says:

    Good question. I asked a chemist colleague, and here is his reply.

    “You will get low levels of atmospheric and shingle particles in the water. They will be very low once the snow melts and you have one good rain event. The material flow from the shingles must be low because shingles last 20+ years and if you really dissolved them at significant rate the shingles would be gone. Other particle flux will depend on your distance from the road, the height of your roof, and the general roof shape. Again, I would expect very low levels of particles and they would end up in your gardens anyway via normal runoff.

    One thing to consider is to remove the water 1″ above the bottom of the barrel. This way any particles will settle below the outflow level. 25% of Maine home wells have over 10 ppb arsenic, the good news is that shouldn’t be in your roof water.”

  3. Kathryn Says:

    I’m so glad Vin asked that question–it was on my mind, too. Here’s one more: is there some sort of cover to prevent mosquitos from laying eggs inside? I don’t think I could take any more of those guys!!

  4. Dan Says:

    Ahh… that’s why Ali and I went to the trouble to add the spigots this year. In years past we cut a piece of plastic screening big enough to be placed over the barrels and secured it with an elastic type bungee cord. When we wanted water, we’d release the bungee, dip with the watering can or bucket until we were done and then replaced the screening using the bungee. Sometimes we neglected to replace the screen. Let’s just say we learned from this mistake. Hence the installation of the spigots. The screen is still in place (held on by the bungee) and won’t have to be removed all season. Almost all opportunity for mosquito breeding is eliminated. The screening also keeps debris from entering the barrel too!

  5. Vin Says:

    Dan, that sounds good but I think there is still the possibility, though small, that they can enter in from the drain spout. I would be prepared for that by getting that the dunks mentioned by the commenter on the blog post that Ali referred to.

  6. Ali Says:

    The screen covers the entire opening (top of the barrel). There is an elbow at the end of the downspout, directing water to the center the barrel. Rainwater flows through the screening.

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