With all the rain we are being blessed with now, it might be easy to forget the drought of 2009. But when you stop and think about it, it's easy to remember the hardships on the people, plants and wildlife of our region. Wouldn't it be nice to have some of that natural water handy for our gardens and flower beds when none is falling from the sky. Rainwater harvesting systems are a good way to save some of Mother Nature's bounty for a sunny day, and designs range from simple to elaborate. News 3 weather watcher Bob Stuckey has installed a system at his house that can save thousands of gallons of rainwater. If you'd like to put away 50 or so gallons yourself, here are Bob's instructions for a fairly easy-to-make rainwater harvesting system.
Making a Rain Barrel
Rainwater Harvesting is an innovative approach of capturing free water. You can save money by collecting and storing rainwater and using it to irrigate your trees, shrubs, and flower beds. An easy way to do this is by constructing a rain barrel. Why should we harvest rainwater? Of all the water in the world, only about 1% is considered useable fresh water. Rainwater is soft water, devoid of chemicals, and plants love it! One inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot roof can yield 600 gallons of harvested rainwater.
Listed below are easy-to-follow steps to build a rain barrel.
(1) 35 to 55 gallon new or clean plastic trash can with lid
(1) Outdoor hose faucet with ½ inch male pipe threads
(1) Roll of fiberglass window screen material wide enough to fit over
top of trash can
(1) Tube of silicone sealer
(1) Package of ½ inch Faucet Rosette Washer and Nut or (2) ½ inch
7/8 inch diameter paddle drill bit
Large crescent wrench or large pliers
1. Drill a hole in the trash can about 4 inches from the bottom of the can, using the 7/8 inch diameter paddle drill bit.
2. Place the Faucet Rosette Washer or thread one of the Faucet Locknuts (depending on what you purchased) onto the ½ inch male threads of the hose faucet.
3. Apply the silicone sealant to the threads of the faucet and on the Rosette washer or Locknut, and push the threaded end of the faucet through the drilled 7/8 inch diameter hole in the trash can.
4. From the inside of the trash can, thread the Rosette Nut or the second Locknut onto the threaded end of the faucet, and tighten using the crescent wrench or large pliers. Be sure that the faucet is pointing down or slightly to one side. Let this dry according to the instructions for the silicone sealant.
5. While that is drying, use the utility knife to cut out most of the top of the trash can lid, leaving the rim and about 1 inch of the lid top.
6. Cut a piece of the fiberglass screen material to fit over the top of the trash can, and use the cut out lid to secure the screen over the top of the trash can. This will keep mosquitoes and debris out of the collected rainwater.
Rain Barrel Location:
Locate the rain barrel under a rain gutter downspout or where a roof valley sheds a large amount of water. Place the barrel on cinder blocks, bricks, or wood to raise the bottom of the barrel about 8 inches off the ground to allow filling a bucket or watering can from the rain barrel water faucet.
Now sit back and wait for the rain!
For more information on water conservation and efficiency practices for you home and landscape as well as information on larger rainwater collection systems, visit the Texas AgriLife Extension Web site at htpp:/rainwaterharvesting.tamu.edu