A drippy faucet is a waste of water, but when thousands of gallons roll off the roof and into the storm drain, the waste is monumental by comparison. Especially when it's so easy to capture the water for reuse.
The process can be as simple as setting out a standard plastic garbage can and using a bucket to retrieve the water. A second option is purchasing ready made 250-gallon (or larger) systems with pre-assembled inlet and outlet fittings.
A third, less expensive choice is making your own rain barrel system. How much water you can capture is a function of the size of your roof and the size of your system.
Every 1,000 square feet of rooftop sheds about 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain. In an average year, Sonoma County receives 40 inches of rain, enough to generate 24,000 gallons of rainwater for every 1,000 square feet of roof area.
Assuming it's going to rain again, your roof will yield more rain water than even the largest storage container can hold. A friend in Sonoma purchased a 2,500-gallon tank last year, for example, which was filled to overflowing by the very first rainstorm.
Your three primary planning considerations should be: how much water you anticipate catching; how much space you have available for the tanks; and how much you can spend.
If your water storage requirements are limited, here's a simple process for making an inexpensive rain catchment barrel. If you need extra incentive, the City of Santa Rosa is offering a materials rebate of $0.25 per gallon of storage.
; Recycled 20- to 55-gallon food-grade barrel with a removable lid (try Friedman's or other hardware stores)
; 3/4-inch copper hose-bib faucet
; 8 inches window screen (1/16-inch mesh)
; Silicon sealer
; 2-inch male PVC threaded adapter
; 2-inch electric conduit nut
; Two 2-inch PVC street elbows
; 2-inch PVC pipe (length will vary)
; PVC glue
; Cordless or electric drill
; 1-inch paddle bit
; 2-3/8-inch hole saw
; Adjustable wrench
Inlet: Using a jigsaw, cut a 6-inch inlet hole in the barrel lid. Cut screen into an 8-inch circle. Apply silicon sealant to top of lid, around perimeter of hole, and apply screen.
Overflow Drain: Drill an outlet hole about 2 inches down from the barrel top using the 2-3/8-inch hole saw. Apply silicon sealant on inside and outside perimeter of hole and insert the threaded adapter into the barrel, taking care not to get sealant on the threads. Tighten the conduit nut on barrel's inside using wrench.
Glue overflow street elbow to the male adapter using PVC glue. Cut a piece of 2-inch PVC pipe that will extend downward, leaving it about 2 inches short of the ground. Glue to overflow street elbow. Then glue the other end to another street elbow, pointing in the direction you want the water to flow (away from the house).
Then cut another section of PVC pipe long enough to carry overflow water to a drainage swale, garden or storm drain. Glue screen material to end of pipe.
Garden Hose Spigot: Drill 1-inch hole about 4 inches from bottom of barrel using paddle bit. Apply silicon sealant around perimeter and thread 3/4-inch hose bib through hole. Tighten with wrench.