Water is vital for human life. The storage of rainwater for drinking purpose started a long time ago. Collecting rainwater also referred as rainwater harvesting is the oldest, yet effective method used for collecting, storing, and purifying rainwater. Rainwater is now being used for drinking purposes because the quality of water is decreasing day by day. Using rainwater for drinking purpose is known as a renewable water supply and has less effect on the environment.
Collecting rainwater significantly increases green life and meets human water requirements in conditions like drought. For different places around the world where water resources are low, it can be the main source of water. The water shortage issue is efficiently solved by harvesting rainwater for drinking purposes. But one thing which is very important and is highly recommended is that the rainwater should be treated before drinking.
How much rainwater can you collect?
The amount of rainwater you can collect can be found by using this formula:
“1″ of rain x 1 sq. ft. = 0.623 gallons”
“Easy to Remember Formula: 1″ of rainfall over 1,000 square feet will yield 623 gallons”
You need to know the annual average precipitation of the region to determine the amount of rainwater you will receive.
Methods of collecting Rain Water:
- Rain Barrels:
This is the most popular and well-known approach for saving rainwater. This requires the installation of a barrel in the gutter downpipe to store water. The actual barrel can be a recycled barrel or a new commercial barrel of rain. From your house roof fix the rain barrel having filter diverters to a downpipe.
- How to build a rain barrel?
- Choose a location near an active downspout
- Build a sturdy foundation to raise the barrel
- Utilize a strong material; the full barrel will be heavy
- Detach your downspout straps and remove the lower spout
- Add flexible hose to bring water to the barrel
- Place debris screen on the top to keep the water safe from mosquitoes
- Advantages of Rain Barrels:
- Barrels can be conveniently found at any hardware store or on online websites
- Barrels do not require a lot of room and work in any situation.
- Can easily be built by anyone in any place
2. Concrete Tanks:
The best way to store rainwater is through a concrete tank. Made of spilled concrete and left to cure in a single seamless piece, this ensures there can be no cracks or leaks. Tanks designed to be connected have joints and bolts that can be separated and this means the water can get infections and can get contaminated or can easily flow away.
- Unlike stone tanks, concrete is a chemical-free material and thus does not have toxic traces of metal that can gradually be dissolved in water.
- Due to the thickness of concrete tanks hygiene is significantly enhanced and water temperature is also maintained so there is very less bacteria in concrete tank.
- No sunlight can enter in the tank, harmful UV rays are stopped, which prevents the growth of algae.
- The extra strong concrete used does not allow insects and termites to enter in the tank.
For this process, the collection pipes are placed underground so that many downspouts from various gutters can be connected. The rainwater fills the underground pipes and then the water goes up in vertical pipes and is poured in the tank. The downspouts and underground pipes should have water-tight linkages. But the installation of this system is quite expensive due to the underground piping system.
- Can collect water from different underground pipes
- You can locate the tank far from your house
Filtering the rainwater:
Many people don’t understand that the natural rainwater obtained isn’t as pure as it seems. Rain picks up low levels of bacteria as well as dust and insect parts so you must treat rainwater before drinking it. Rain passes through the atmosphere before falling to the ground; it can pick many contaminants from the air. If you live in a place where there is a lot of pollution then filtering is a must part. It is not a great idea to drink rainwater falling near chemical plants.
Moreover, rainwater collecting systems are vulnerable to environmental hazards, and contaminants can enter the rain barrels and tanks in many ways and can affect the water quality. Users need to understand that rainwater needs treatment and it can be treated by following these easy methods:
1. Use of activated carbon filter:
Rainwater includes dirt, algae, and particles of different forms so before drinking pass it through a carbon filter. Check for an active carbon filter container that can extract contaminants and unwanted smells and substances from the water. Allow the water to flow completely through the filter so that no toxic substance remains in it.
Activated carbon filters do not usually cost a lot, but larger versions or containers with built-in filters can be significantly more expensive. Carbon filters do not remove any bacteria or toxins from the water, so water is still not completely safe for drinking purpose. You can use a coffee filter for the elimination of bigger particles from the water if you do not have an activated carbon filter and it is an emergency.
If you want a more comprehensive filtering system, lookup for a container having a reverse-osmosis filter since it eliminates more particulate matter and bacteria.
2. Boil the water:
Take the filtered water, put it into a large pot, and heat it on your stove. Wait until the water is boiled and then place a cover on the pot. Boil the water for at least one minute to eliminate rainwater bacteria and other microorganisms. Let the water cool down before you drink it.
You can also use a pot without a cover, but because of evaporation, you can lose some of the rainwater. If you live 5000 feet above the sea level then boil the rainwater for at least three minutes to kill all the germs.
Before disinfecting do make sure that the water is at room temperature. To each 1 gallon of water, you are treating add 6 to 8 drops of chlorine which is transparent. Mix the water thoroughly and leave it for 30 minutes. Once finished, the water will have a slight smell of chlorine but you can drink it now.
If the water gives a flavor of chlorine then switch it to a container and leave it for 2-3 hours.
Study local laws before collecting rainwater:
The legislation and regulations concerning rainwater collection differ from state to state, with some of them being stricter than others. Review the local laws before you start making plans for rainwater collection. States like Texas, Rhode Island, and Virginia love the idea of storing rainwater and are offering tax exemptions to equipment buyers. It is also legal to collect rainwater in Michigan as well and there are no laws against rainwater harvesting. But in some states particularly in the American West, water rights is a complicated issue and it is illegal to store water for drinking purpose.