Water is the most essential substance for humans, and for all life. We need it to survive, grow our food, practice hygiene, and to clean just about everything. Drought and lack of access to clean water are increasingly becoming a major concern in a growing number of places, making water an invaluable resource across the globe.
The collection of water for residential use can be achieved by several different methods and techniques. Where the water table is shallow, homeowners can drill wells and pump water from underground aquifers. In some cases the property owner may have legal right to surface bodies of water (i.e. rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.), and can pump water directly from those sources. One of the most practical and overlooked methods of collecting water, however, is to harvest rain water.
Because most people do not have a river or lake on their property, and because drilling a well can be extremely expensive and can require a considerable amount of time obtaining permits, rainwater harvesting (or rainwater catchment) is often the most simple, practical, and cost-effective method of collecting water. Of course, the homeowner must always conduct diligent research regarding their legal rights, no matter how they choose to collect their water.
Rainwater harvesting or catchment systems typically utilize rooftops as a water collection surface and some combination of gutters, downspouts and diverters to direct water into barrels, tanks or cisterns. One of the primary advantages of using this technique to harvest rainwater is that your catchment system can be constructed at a considerably low cost. Plastic rainwater diverters, Flex-Drain downspouts and extensions, rain barrels, cisterns, and water tanks can be purchased cheaply and assembled easily.
Rainwater catchment systems must be optimized to meet demand, which includes considering the amount of local annual rainfall. In dry and arid regions, for example, rain catchment surfaces must exceed a particular surface area in order to meet the demands of residents. Catchment systems in regions of wetter climate, on the other hand, do not require collection surfaces or cisterns to be quite so large.
Rainwater Catchment Laws
Check your local laws and regulations on rainwater catchment. Some counties and municipalities have already enacted laws against rainwater catchment. Off-Grid Gorilla advises against breaking any rainwater catchment law or regulation. However, many such laws are “justified” by preventing the catchment of water that would otherwise enter the groundwater system, yet drilling wells is almost always permitted in rural areas that cannot be served by utility companies. Based on hydrogeologic knowledge of regional groundwater recharge, the editors at Off-Grid Gorilla believe that in many cases the collection of residential rainwater would have only a minuscule effect on regional groundwater levels, and would in fact help offset the growing problem of over-consumption of surface water bodies such as lakes and rivers. It is the opinion of the Off-Grid Gorilla editors that these laws are not necessarily founded in evidence, but are often written to protect the interests of large utility companies. Off-Grid Gorilla encourages you to investigate your local rainwater catchment laws, and to contact your local representative if you believe that these laws infringe on your individual rights.