Harnessing rain for a greater good…

Had this convo with a coworker yesterday: her In-Laws are on their way. We think. And while their arrival date is uncertain, it is clear when they do get here… they WILL do laundry. And LOTS of it. She had last years’ water bill to prove the family’s conviction towards doing loads of laundry… on the month they visited, her water bill spiked well-above reasonable human consumption. 50,000 gallons to be exact.

Last night, Austin’s skies threatened a downpour. I waited. Gadora is reminded of a neighborhood house I toured recently whose owner ripped out the grass in favor of indigenous and non-needy plants. She’d built this tank in her backyard that kind of made me jealous. That woman can collect some water. She would be happy, I was sure. Thought I’d touch on rain harvesting. A product of a heated ecosystem in central Florida that allowed the skies to open up quite regularly in the summers, I love the rain. And when rain happens in Texas, I can do nothing but rejoice.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

“Rainwater harvesting is one of the world’s oldest water supply methods and it is currently enjoying a revival in popularity,” starts EdwardsAquifer.net. “Rain has long been valued as a superior quality water because it is soft, free of sodium and chemicals, and is excellent for landscape use. Collecting rain also reduces flooding and can help utilities reduce peak demands during summer months.”

This “harvesting system provides 100 gallons of rainwater storage within an 8-foot vertical planted frame. Below right is the concept featured at the 2009 Interior Design Show in Toronto…..sure beats the typical barrel collection method!”

CISTA Rainwater Harvesting

Gadora’s very own Super Dad re-purposed a plastic “barrel” from his buddy in the Golf Course-business, placed it behind his garage and redirected gutters to empty into it. He’s proud (as am I) with how relatively simple the process was, and how much water it collects for use in his garden, to rinse paint brushes in the yard, and a million other uses that prevent the family from pulling water from the City. Thanks Sunset for this photo journal.

Rainwater Barrel

Collecting rainwater: If Dr. Seuss designed downspouts. “The downspouts are a carefully designed collection of galvanized-steel pipes and large funnels that carry rainwater from the gutter at the roof’s edge down—eventually—to the city’s storm drains.” It’s kind of magical.

Rain collection system in Germany

Rain Chains by Austin Gutter King offer a snappy way to break the fall of water, and guide rainfall into a receptacle (rain water barrel, etc), or onto a bed of pebbles.

Cup-style rain chain from Austin Gutter King

Here’s an example of a rain chain by ecobre.com that drops rain into a pebble garden. Wonder if the home owners use a subterranean drainage system, below the river rocks?

Rain collection into a pebble pool

And a little bonus: Do-it-Yourself Rain Chain video by Leading Green Architect, Michelle Kaufmann.

• • •

Austin Gutter King ~ Offering hand-made rain chains that break the fall of the water, guiding it visibly downward onto pebbles, a pot or stone basin.

Design Shrine ~ Rain Shine House tour…

QatarSocial ~ Rain water harvesting desert garden…

Weird Water Laws ~ Rainwater harvesting occurs when storm water runoff is diverted from flowing to the ground and instead put to beneficial use by the rainwater harvester. However, in the western U.S. capturing rainwater is generally illegal due to the prior appropriation doctrine that governs water. Often called the “first in time, first in right” priority system, the first person to allocate and use water is the senior water right holder within a particular stream system. Therefore, taking water from your roof is akin to stealing from downstream water right holders.

One thought on “Harnessing rain for a greater good…

  1. Have your friend turn the machines water off at the source usually right near the machine and tell the inlaws that her washing machine is broken. She can find a few laundomats in the area for them to use.
    Are they equally inconsiderate about everything else? She should put those water saving attachments on the shower also, they probably take twenty minute showers.

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