The Workbench: How to save that rainwater

  • Rain Catchment system

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.

Materials Required:

; 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

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