If you are planning to live off the grid, or you simply want to harvest rainwater for day to day use, then it is vital that you start collecting the rainwater as soon as possible, and to think about how you are going to store all that water.
The advantages of rainwater harvesting are economic, clean water, growing crops, raising livestock, cleaning, cooking, flushing toilets, hydration, composting, environmentally friendly, water for wildlife, reduces flooding, reduces erosion, fire protection, harvesting rainwater is easy, filling swimming pools, reduces carbon footprint, creating your own pond, irrigation, and even for generating heat.
No matter for what purpose you will use your rainwater you will need a good filtering system, my personal recommendation is to use a gravity-fed water filter which does not need any electricity Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
Most preppers aim to be as self-reliant as possible, as they do know that most of the modern infrastructure would be disabled in a major SHTF situation. Not only you can harvest rainwater for your home but also for your bug out location, some people even choose to go off the grid entirely and usually their main source of water is rainwater. Having the ability to collect rainwater especially in a major SHTF situation will make the situation much easier.
While most preppers also do include a lot of water for drinking, cooking and cleaning in their supplies, but these will not last forever and if you do not have a nearby source of freshwater or any possibility of getting fresh water thane you will find yourself in a lot of trouble. If you have read my article How long can you store bottled water? ( In your Home, Garage or Car ), you probably already know that long term storing of water in water bottles is not the best idea, this is why in addition to your water supplies you should always have some other ways to get fresh water.
Do note that before deciding to get a rainwater collecting system make sure you inform yourself if it is actually legal to collect rainwater in your area if it is not and you get caught you might get fined or even worse jailed. I honestly could never wrap my mind around how could collecting rainwater be illegal as it is considered the property of the state. Like how does it make it the property of the state, does the state produce it or the water evaporated from international oceans is considered state property.
Water costs money, it is plain and simple if you do have the ability to collect rainwater you will reduce your living costs at least a bit. You will still be connected to your local water supply but by collecting rainwater you can use it for cleaning, watering your garden and even use it as a backup water supply for an emergency situation. Generally speaking, water is in short storage in more arid environments, like in California where it is actually illegal to harvest rainwater, although one of the major exports which California produces is almonds which uses a lot of water in comparison to other crops.
Rainwater is clean
When water evaporates from the surface, from local ponds or from the open ocean it rises up into the atmosphere where it condenses and it forms rainwater. This is by far the cleanest water you can get your hands on as no bacteria will be able to latch on to the water once it is in vapor form. In addition to this while, the water is evaporating it will leave behind dangerous chemicals and hard metals which are not possible to be filtered out or otherwise purified in a water treatment facility.
If you have the ability to collect rainwater that you can use it to become even more self-reliable, making a small garden that does not rely on your local water supply. With this in mind, the amount of rainwater you can collect will determine how many crops you can grow. Growing different kinds of grains by only using your rainwater supply is a good idea, if you store them correctly these can last for years, for more on the subject check out my recent article How to store grains long term at home ( Best Practices ).
Raising livestock isn’t for everybody, but for people who want to be as self-sufficient as possible like preppers and people living off the grid, growing livestock is a necessity. Most people who decide to raise livestock are limited by a couple of factors like how much land they have, how affordable is the initial investment into the livestock, how affordable is feeding them and the availability of freshwater. If you collect your own rainwater and in addition, you also use the rainwater to grow crops you can eliminate a couple of these factors.
Even if you only use your collected rainwater you will still reduce your living costs although this entirely depends on what are you cleaning. If your family has several cars, cleaning all off them once a week could raise your water bill substantially, in this case, it is a good idea to use rainwater.
You can also use your rainwater for cooking, my recommendation is to boil the water before in order to purify it. The problem is not with the actual water but rather than with the container, once the rainwater goes through your rainwater collecting system it will inevitably collect some dust and debris along the way which will settle in your rainwater storage tank. Once there these items start to break down which is a good food source for bacteria and viruses.
Flushing toilets use a lot of water, especially if you have a family. Think about how many times you flush the toilet per day and multiply that of how many members your family has, Now multiply that number with 365 which is one year and now compare your water bills from the entirety of the past year, probably 30-40% of your water usage goes literally down the toilet. You can use the collected rainwater to flush your toilets either by flushing them manually or by hooking up the toilet water intake to your rainwater tank.
Drinking rainwater is completely safe, although you still need to filter it and purify it. Some improperly set up rainwater collection systems might end up being a breeding ground for different kinds of bacteria, viruses, and even insects. Before drinking any rainwater make sure you set up a good water filter before purifying the water. If you need more information about how to filter out the water the most efficiently and which is the best water filter check out my article Do Lifestraws work? ( Or do they? ).
If you are an avid gardener you probably already know how important composting is, however depending on the size of your compost this tend to need a lot of water to get the composting process started. Composts can even dry up in hot summer temperatures, this is why it is vital to water them once in a while, and using rainwater is the cheapest alternative you will have.
If you are concerned about the environment than you might find that collecting rainwater is environmentally friendly, sort of. While the actual collecting of the rainwater is environmentally friendly the production of the rainwater collecting system is not. Also if everybody would start collecting rainwater the local aquifer will have a limited amount of new freshwater coming in, which could end up raising the actual cost of water and in some cases, it might also lead to severe droughts.
Water for wildlife
During summertime where small pools of water can evaporate fairly quickly, the local wildlife suffers, animals taking risks to find water and entering human-inhabited areas. If you have a swimming pool you have probably already noticed all kinds of animals drinking and bathing in it. Something as simple as a bucket of freshwater placed in a corner of your yard will make it easier for local wildlife to use it, just keep an eye on it so that you do not attract pests or dangerous animals.
This is extremely situational, as one person collecting rainwater will have no impact on the amount of water in a flood. Although some people do claim that with enough people collecting rainwater it can reduce the size of a flood and in some cases, it can also reduce the stormwater runoff which otherwise might overwhelm the local sewer systems.
When rainwater falls on the ground, and while it is being absorbed into the ground it causes erosion. Generally speaking the larger rain the bigger the erosion it produces, while you can not stop all the erosion, by collecting rainwater you can still reduce the erosion around your house. If you live in a house, just talk a look around the house after a storm and you will see at least some kind of erosion, while this is probably nothing to be concerned of it will still make the ground bumpy which in turn makes cutting grass a lot harder than usual.
If you are harvesting rainwater you will have a large amount of rainwater in your water tank which will definitely come in hand in a fire. This is especially important if you live in an area which is prone to wildfires, not only you can fend off the fires which are threatening your house but by watering the surrounding plants you can also hinder the surrounding plants to catch on fire.
Harvesting rainwater is easy
After the initial set up of the rainwater harvesting system, there will be no additional work needed for harvesting rainwater. Except in some rare cases where the initial rainwater harvesting system has not been set up correctly, or it has been damaged somehow. After you set up the system it will work till it breaks, but in most cases, you will not even have to touch the rainwater system for several years except for cleaning. What I like in particular about harvesting rainwater as I do not even have to be there to be working, once the rain comes it will automatically collect all the water, even while I am asleep. Now that is full of automation without using a single drop of electricity.
Who doesn’t like a swimming pool during summertime, filling your swimming pool up several times during the summer will need a lot of water. You can use your collected rainwater to fill or just simply supplement the additional water in your swimming pool. Most water tanks will not have enough rainwater in them to fill an entire swimming pool but a couple of gallons here and there will make a big difference in the long run. My recommendation is to filter out the rainwater before you use it for your swimming pool.
Rainwater harvesting system cost
You can probably find several different rainwater harvesting kits on the market, but most often people just build it themselves with whatever they have around their house. Also, harvesting rainwater is not rocket science, if you have grasped the concept of gravity than you should have no problem setting up a rainwater collecting system in no time.
Reduces carbon footprint
Water from your local water supply company has to travel for several miles in pipes, most of these are fed with electrical pumps. Once the water arrives at the plant it needs to be filtered and purified which will use even more electricity. But if you are collecting rainwater the system is so small that there is no need for electricity, a simple plastic pipe connected to your gutters which flows in your water collecting tank.
Create your own pond
If you live in an area where the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing even during wintertime, you can use your collected rainwater to create a small pond that will be constantly replenished by freshwater from your water tank. You can use this small pond for aesthetic porpuses and have some colorful freshwater fishes or you can use it to grow fish with are fit for eating. Although the size of the pond will most likely determine what kind of fish you can use in your rainwater pond.
I have mentioned somewhere above that using rainwater for growing crops is an excellent idea, but even if you are not raising crops you can still use this water for your lawn. As the local temperatures seem to be rising from one summer to another you will start noticing that your grass will die off in certain spots. On hotter days it is extremely important to water your grass either in the morning or in the evening. If you have sprinkles set up you can hook them up to your water tank, all you need to add is a small pump which will keep the water under pressure.
You heard it right, you can generate heat with a solar heater which is using rainwater. This is by far one of my best investments as I do have a lot of freshwaters which I can use to irrigate my lawn and crops during the summer, and during the wintertime, the melted snow runs into my water storage, which is hooked to the solar heater. During wintertime the surface layer of the water tank will probably freeze, some people will add salt in the water so that it does not freeze, do NOT do this as salt is very corrosive and will destroy any metal parts after a while, not to mention water filters can not filter out the salt from the water as the molecules are way too small to be caught by any filter.
Some businesses do have BREEAM requirements, which aim to reduce the water consumption of a business. By collecting your own rainwater you will get extra credit from BREEAM, which eventually might lead to better deals or in some cases even tax cuts.
Environmental benefits of rainwater harvesting
If you want to live an environmentally friendly way of life, starting with harvesting rainwater is one of the biggest impacts you can make. Even if you are the only one harvesting rainwater in your entire neighborhood you will still make an impact in the long run, especially if you live in a more arid environment. This way you will not only reduce your own carbon footprint but you will also drastically reduce your living costs.
Reduced energy demand
Water treatment companies use a lot of energy to filter and to purify water if you are not relying on the water from your water treatment company, instead, you are harvesting your own rainwater you directly impact the demand for water from the local water treatment company which in turn impacts their need for electricity. I have previously mentioned heating with solar-powered heaters which can be hooked up to use rainwater, this, in turn, will reduce the energy demand even more.
Reduced groundwater demand
The availability of groundwater is starting to become an ever-increasing problem, everyday people who waste a lot of water in addition to companies that rely on freshwater for manufacturing purposes put a constant strain on the groundwater. The problem with groundwater is even more noticeable in arid environments where even a month without rainfall could end up in water shortages.
If you are collecting rainwater you will reduce the demand of groundwater, one household might be too small to make a big impact, but trust me it pays off in the long run. Just take a look at your water bill from the last year you will probably find that you have used a lot of water.
Pollution and the demand for water go hand in hand, the more water we use the more pollution we indirectly generate. Once we have used the water and it goes does in the sewers this generally speaking heads off to the local water treatment facility which needs to filter and purify it. The level of pollution-related to water treatment increases exponentially during the summertime as people tend to use much more water than usual, and most of the water is actually wasted.
There are a lot of advantages for harvesting rainwater, in addition to reducing your own living cost you will also directly impact the local environment by not putting a strain on the local groundwater source and you will also reduce the demand for electricity. These combined with being mindful of how you use your water will also reduce pollution in your local area.