A Guide to Rainwater Harvesting Systems

Due to the decline in the consumption of treated water and the inherent quality of rainwater, the use of the ancient rainwater harvesting technique is gaining popularity. The pH value of rainwater is neutral and it is also pure from any kind of disinfections caused by by-products, salts, or other man-made contaminants. Thus, it is considered to be very valuable because of its purity and softness.

 Stored rainwater when used for irrigation is also beneficial for plantation. Appliances also live longer when rainwater is used because they remain safe from the corrosive effects of hard water. Rainwater is also preferred due to its superior taste and cleansing properties over hard water.

About Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is the process of using rainwater which is collected either from the roof or from the soil. It is then redirected to be used beneficially.

This type of harvesting can be conducted in two ways:

Active Rainwater Harvesting – the method of storing water in tanks for later use.

Passive Rainwater Harvesting – the method of storing water directly in the ground.

The harvested water can then be used in multiple ways including watering the plants or the land, for use in a toilet, washing clothes, and if the water is treated well, then it may also be used for drinking and cooking purposes.

Benefits of Harvesting Rainwater

The benefits of using the technique of rainwater harvesting are many. Some of these include the following: 

  • The harvested rainwater is free of cost. The only cost that it includes is the cost of collecting and using the rainwater
  • The rainwater harvesting technique eliminates the need for complex and costly distribution systems as they are usually located close to where the harvested water is to be used
  • Rainwater harvesting is also useful where groundwater is either not available or is unacceptable. It can also be used to increase the limited supply of groundwater
  • The softness of the rainwater also makes it a good alternative to hard water as it will not only increase the life of the appliances but will also eliminate the need for adding a water softener or any kinds of salts during the softening process
  • For people who are on low-sodium diet, rainwater is the best alternative since it is sodium free.
  • Rainwater is also considered to be the best option for landscape irrigation.
  • Rainwater harvesting also reduces soil erosion
  • During monsoons, it also preserves the surface water runoff.
 Rainwater Harvesting Systems at Home

The simplest form of using a rainwater harvesting system at home requires a rain barrel which needs to be placed under the house guttering downspout so that it can collect water and then that water can be used to water your plants or lawn. So, a rainwater harvesting system requires the following: 

  • An area which is usually referred to as the catchment area where you can basically collect rainwater
  • A conveyance system which will move the rainwater from the catchment area to the water tank so that it can be stored for later use
  • A storage system like a water tank where the water can be stored safely
  • A distribution system so that the harvested rainwater can be used for the purpose it has been stored for like irrigation of plants or for use in toilets.

Dos and Don’ts of Rainwater Harvesting

While identifying the usage of rainwater, it is also very important to make sure that the rainwater is free of pollutants and to ensure this, the following measures need to be taken: 

  • If you are using roofs or terraces to collect the rain water, you must ensure that they are clean, dust free and free of algae, plants or other pollutants
  • Before the end of the summer and at the start of the first showers of the wetter seasons, the storage tanks should be properly cleaned after all kinds of debris and/or sediments have been scrubbed off
  • The entire system needs to be cleaned properly both before and after each rain
  • Filters need to be placed at the mouth of each drain pipe so that the sediments and debris can be filtered out efficiently.

 Considering the benefits of rainwater harvesting and for conserving the future needs of water, the ancient technique of rainwater harvesting is being practiced in many parts of the world. In developing countries like Asia, Latin America, and Africa where rainfall is seasonal, it becomes necessary to store rainwater because the groundwater is either not available or is polluted. Even developed countries like Germany and USA have also started using this ancient technique due to the contamination of traditional supplies and to save money. Once you know how to make use of rainwater harvesting system the right way, you will be able to benefit from this technique too.