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Rain Water Harvesting
Dated: March 9 2017
Rain Water Harvesting
In 1999 when we bought our new home in the Hill Country we found out there were a few things we didn't fully understand. The main one was what well water taste like, effects appliances, water spots, water softeners, filters, chlorination and cost to keep a well producing. After a short time we decided if our well ever stopped working we would switch to rain water harvesting. In 2005 our well took a direct lighting strike burning all the wires and imploding the casing/hole. This was our chance to switch to rain water harvesting.
Over the years when people find out I have a rain water harvesting system they always have questions. A few of the common ones are as follows. I want to install a rain water harvesting system so I can water my grass and plants in the summer. Do you run out of water every summer? How much water can you collect when it rains? How much water do you use every month? Does it taste good? Do clothes washed in it smell? How do you keep bugs out of the holding tanks? Is it safe? Do you have to be real careful with your water by taking quick showers/baths. I could go on but won't.
I'll start with the one that makes me laugh the most. Can I use the rain water I collected to water my yard & plants? You can but it won't last very long. It takes about 20,000 gallons to water 1 acre with .5" of water. I guess you could water a 1/4 acre yard a few times before you ran out if you had 20,000 capacity of storage. The little rain barrels catch about 50 gallons, those won't last long either. You get the picture,right?
I do have 20,000 gallons of storage, two tanks 10,000 gallons each. In the central Texas climate we tend to get our rain in bunches with weeks or even months in between rainfall events. On average for household purposes each person uses about 75 gallons of water a day. We have an average rain fall of about 40" per year, mostly in the fall & spring. Often we go for long periods without measurable rainfall during June, July & August. That's why you need storage capacity. If we go 60 days with no rain a family of 4 would need 18,000 gallons in storage to make it through a 60 day period. Luckily we tend to get at least one good rain storm in the summer that gets us through. My system is designed to serve a family of five in our climate.
Do I run out of water often? In the 13 years we have been using only rain water we ran out once. We were out of town in January when one of our famous week long winter fronts blows through keeping the temperatures down in the 20 all week. With no one home one of the outdoor pipes cracked and we lost 20,000 gallons. Yes out of water the first morning we got up to go to work! Unfortunately that was the year we had the worst drought so we never really caught up on filling our tanks. We did get some rain from time to time but we did have to supplement our water supply by buying bulk water a few times. Since then we have never had to buy water.
Our system consists of two 10,000 gallon tanks, an on demand surface pump, a 5 micron cotton filter, 4 micron carbon filter and a stainless steel ultra violet light chamber. The pump puts out 12 gallons a minute which will run 4 fixtures at a time with out a noticeable pressure drops. If a 5th fixture is opened is opened water still flows OK but it is a noticeable drop on pressure. All the openings in the tank are sealed or screened to keep bugs and debris out. I'm sure some get in through the gutters but the filters take care of that. Come to think of it, I have never seen a bug or leaf in the filters. We recently had out water tested and were told it was cleaner than bottled water.
When setting up a system you have to know how many square feet of collection space (roof) you have to know how much storage you will need. For every 1000 Sq/Ft of collection space you will collect about 650 gallons of water from a 1" rain fall. We use less soaps and such because the rain water is so balanced (PH). Water spots are almost non existent (soapy water does spot).
If you have questions feel free to email or call. I'll be happy to help. I almost forgot, My son and I installed the system ourselves in 2 days (some did deliver the tanks).
Thanks for stopping by and if I can help you with your real estate needs give me a shout!
Morris "Bill" Austin ~ REALTOR® ~ Team Price Inc
A full time REALTOR® serving sellers and buyers since 2007
512-709-6343 ~ email@example.com