Rain, Rain Don't Go Away

Rainy days (particularly when they occur one after the other) really can bring me down (and Mondays, too, of course- damn that song!)

Seeing the rain as nourishment for the plants and animals, and obviously for us, makes it a little easier to bear those washed out weekends.

According to the American Water Works Association, we use 150 gallons of water per person in the U.S. everyday (how is this possible?) and almost 60% of that is used for ... landscaping! On a planet where 1 in 6 people do not even have clean drinking water this is a real tragedy.

How can we reduce our water usage? There are many ways- but an easy way to reduce the 60% used for landscaping is a rain catchment system. A rain barrel is a great way to collect and store water that runs off the roof - which is an average of six gallons of water per square foot for every inch of rain.

What would you do with this free source of extra water? Well, even though rainwater is natural, it isn't safe for drinking unless it's been filtered and treated. All that rainwater washing off your roof is carrying pollution with it, not to mention bird droppings and parts of dead bugs (yum).

It's still great water, though- plants love it. You can water your pots and flowerbeds, your grass, clean off your siding and driveway and wash the car.

You can also use it to water your thirsty vegetables, but not in the same way as you would use tap water. When watering your veggies with rainwater, keep the water flow at ground level, away from the stuff you'll actually be eating, and don't use rainwater within a couple of days of harvesting your veggies. After harvesting, always wash your vegetables thoroughly with tap water.

Keep the top of your barrel firmly in place. Exposing rainwater to sunlight and open air will encourage algae growth. Make sure the screen is secure to keep out water-loving bugs, like mosquitoes (you will probably need mosquito dunks).

I've also heard you can keep goldfish in the barrel (sans lid) and they will eat the larvae, but I could never keep a goldfish alive in my house and can't imagine how this would be possible in my rain barrels (love the idea though, but wouldn't want to sacrifice any of the little cuties to try it out).

Clean the filter regularly and inspect your rain barrel every once in a while for leaks. Keep your roof gutters clean and make sure that water is flowing freely to and through the downspout when it rains.

A pump makes it easier to water your large areas (one pump can be used for multiple barrels), although depending on the size of your lawn or garden area, sometimes just gravity will do the trick. They have to come down in the winter, but you won't be needing this water during the off-season anyway.

It is a bit of work, but really not as much as I have made it sound like here (ugh!) and harvesting water will give you a really good, warm and fuzzy feeling and make those rainy days (maybe not Mondays though, sorry) less likely to get ya' down...

1. Beautiful Girl Under Umbrella Dress by Foxlor
2. Bumpoershoot Umbrella Earrings by CleverGirl (who really is!)
3. Adorable Umbrella Couple Dish by TheBrickKiln
4. Mint Cameo Umbrella Pin by the amazing OhHelloFriend
5. The Umbrellas Digital Art Print by LittleBranches
6. The whimsical Rainy Day by TummyMountain


Nicomi Nix Turner said...

Sad to think that people wont care until their throats are dry and their bellies are empty thanks to a lack of vegetation.

Great post

M.M.E. said...

That's a really great idea. And some really scary numbers. I'm glad I live in a place where only the crazy people water their lawns. Most of us just shrug and say, 'meh, at least I don't have to mow now that it's brown.'

SillyLittleLady said...

I can't wait till I'm done with apartment living! That will be one of the first things I do, set up a rain barrel :)

Anonymous said...

I love the rain barrel idea. It's actually fairly attractive in that pic with the flowers around it. Great idea.

Tim Pope said...

Congratulations for promoting rainwater harvesting and rain barrels but please don't advocate the use for "lawns". It takes 620 gallons per week to maintain 1000 sq.ft. of lawn in prime condition. Rainwater is much better used for some household uses and outdoor watering of flowers, veggies and foundation landscaping. Please go to www.arcsa.org

Tim Pope
President, American Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association

waste not now, want not later.

Catherine Ivins said...

Tim- Thanks for the info and link!

Aquabarrel said...

Another issue with some rain barrel designs - the lack of a proper sized overflow port - what happens after it fills up that water has to go somewhere - The Aquabarrel has in let equal in size to the outlet - check it out - Yes, we are an ARCSA Memeber too. http://www.aquabarrel.com/product_rain_barrel_complete_80gal.php