A rain collector is a great way to get access to a lot of water without having to tap into community sources, and as long as you are not in a recharge zone, the water you use does not affect the water supply levels. A rain collector is generally not recommended to be used for a supply of drinking water, however rain collectors can and should be used if there is truly no other clean water available. First we will be going over the ways to ensure that the water you are collecting from the rain is safe (methods to filter it and actions that can cause it to become contaminated), and second, we will be going over the safer uses of rainwater that are applicable to most, and various info about efficiency related to amount, pathogens, risks, and recharge zones. Though it isn’t required for all uses, the environmental and fiscal benefits multiply when combined with measures to conserve water, remove dangerous bacteria, and filter with equipment that does not remove the much-needed minerals from the water.
Selecting Equipment for Collecting
Storage — Those looking to save some money on lawn care may opt for a simple wooden barrel, while those needing large volumes may require the use of piping that runs between multiple barrels or containers.
Collection — The most basic is simply a barrel with a screen that catches a small area. The roof is commonly used, and a diverter can allow you to not start collecting rain until it has rained enough that all dirt is washed away. Uncommon enough to not warrant great detail, some use large funnels or food grade plastic pieces as a cleaner alternative to roofs.
Best Uses and Situations for Rain Collection
The best uses for unfiltered non-potable water include activities such as watering your garden plants (but still avoid watering lawns when in a drought), and hosing down dirty cars, parts of your home, etc.
The best uses for filtered potable water can be numerous, assuming you are using proper equipment (speak with an expert to be safe). The ones that need fuller filtration will be marked as such, and those that can be used safely with a more basic filtration system will be marked as well.
If you can adjust the pipelines, you can use this water to do laundry and run the toilet (this requires only basic filtration).
Showering and sink water is not recommended for usage without running proper tests, but is a possibility. Similarly, drinking water is generally saved for emergencies but remains a possibility (these activities would require full filtration).
Safety, Hazards, Filtering, and Equipment
Safety — Rain itself is evaporated water, which doesn’t carry any bacteria with it. But that does not mean that what you end up with in the barrel is totally safe. Especially if you do not use a screen, or let it run off your roof before collecting it. As well, you need to make sure that it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight and open air, as that will create the perfect breeding ground for algae, bugs, and bacteria.
Filtering Equipment — What you need will depend greatly on what you use it for, how often it is used, and the collection equipment used. You may need something to make the water drinking quality, something to remove pathogens, or something to remove toxins (while retaining beneficial minerals).
We hope this helps you with any efforts to create a rain collector, big or small. Please contact Clear Water of San Marcos located in San Marcos, TX if you have any further questions or are interested in making your own rain collector.