It’s raining, it’s pouring, are you the one who’s snoring?

Only the rain that falls in catchment areas makes it into the municipal water supply which means that all that precious water dripping of your roof is practically wasted. Fear not, there are a number of ways of harvesting rainwater and making the most of every drip, drizzle and cloud burst.

Benefits of harvesting rainwater

  • It reduces soil erosion and flooding around buildings
  • It’s relatively cheap to install and can help you reduce your water bill and your dependence on municipal water.
  • It helps solve drainage problems and reduce pooling problems where the storm water drains are insufficient

Ways of harvesting rainwater

The temporary way

The most obvious way is to put every basin, bucket and kiddie pool on the lawn during a cloud burst. This means that you need to collect and cover all this water before it evaporates away or becomes a breeding ground for every mosquito in the neighbourhood. It’s also not a great idea in a storm unless you’re fond of bucket missiles and kiddie pool kites.

The handyman way

One of the most practical ways is to install a rainwater tank under one of your gutters. Your roof is a wonderful rain collection surface and your existing gutter system is designed to channel that water. South African Country Life has a great how-to for harvesting rainwater in this way. If you are using a rainwater tank it is a good idea to use a pre-filter to keep debris from your roof and gutters out of your collected water. Rhodes University has instructions for an clever, inexpensive, dome-shaped pre-filter that allows most of the debris slide off.

The committed, professional way.

If you have a bit of capital to spend and you are serious about harvesting water you can install a rainwater harvesting system of connected tank that is then plumbed into the household water system. With the right planning and some professional help you can even become independent of the municipal water supply. Read Nikki Kohly’s story for a description of a system and some suggestions.

Using your collected water

You can use your harvested rainwater for anything that you would use municipal water for. It is even considered safe to drink in most areas if you use pre-filters and keep your storage tank UV protected and covered. You can even plumb it into your household system for everyday use.

Make the most of it.

This is a drought prone country and our current water crises will not be the last.  Every litre you collect is one less lost down a storm water drain or pooled on a busy road. Harvesting rainwater is good for your community, good for your local environment and good for your wallet so make the most of your wet weather.

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