Reduce Water Use with a Rainwater Collection System

Going green — By Stephanie on March 6, 2011 at 6:21 am

Look outside your window right now.  Is it raining?  With spring around the corner, we’ll probably be seeing plenty “liquid sunshine” in the days and weeks ahead.  It seems like a shame to let all that good water go to waste!

You can reduce water use with a rainwater collection system, and its probably easier than you think.

rainwater collection diagram Reduce Water Use with a Rainwater Collection System

Diagram of rainwater collection system (image from

Rainwater harvesting gathers water that ordinarily just runs off your roof (and snow melt, if present), collects it via existing gutters and directs it to a cistern where it can later be pumped out to water your landscaping or wash your car.

In other words, its nature’s “gray water” system.

Even where I live in the High Desert region of Oregon, experts say that a 2,500 square foot home could capture up to 12,000 gallons of rainwater each year.  Other, wetter regions could easily harvest twice that much water.

Some areas of the country that have significant water shortage issues mandate water conservation with rainwater harvesting.  In fact, new homes in New Mexico and Arizona.

cistern 300x225 Reduce Water Use with a Rainwater Collection System

Above ground cistern for rainwater harvesting

But how expensive is a rainwater collection system?  The initial outlay is between $3,000-$5,000 for a typical home system, and depends in part on whether the cistern is installed above ground, or below.  If below grade, then soil composition will impact excavation costs.

Unfortunately, homeowners that choose to install a rainwater harvesting system will not re-coup the financial investment, as with solar panels.   The pay-off instead comes through the satisfaction that you are conserving water and helping keep river flows and groundwater supplies at a healthy level.

Are you interested in a rainwater collection system?  Here are some good sites at which to learn more:

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