Take advantage of rain events as much as possible to conserve water! It's free and rainwater is always better for plants than treated tap water, mainly due to its nitrogen content. Collecting rainwater is beneficial for preventing erosion too.
Even if you don't have specific plants or gardens to water, it's still beneficial to capture the water and release it slowly over the days following a rain storm. Releasing it slowly allow more water to penetrate the ground, and again, prevents erosion--less of your soil will flow off the property with the water!
You can take advantage of another, free and more constant, water source, your air conditioner condensate! Collect it in the same barrel as your rainwater for continued water savings. With our hot temperatures, our air conditioners are running more than ever, creating that little stream of water throughout the day that keeps the side of your yard wet and the grass green! This is basically distilled water that can be reused the same water rainwater can.
New Rainwater Harvesting Rebate
Beginning June 1, 2013, the City is offering a rebate on water collection to direct City of Round Rock water customers! The rebate amount is based on the total capacity size of your collection system at $0.50 per gallon, with the maximum rebate amount of $400. (So, if you purchase a 500-gallon tank, the rebate would be 500 x 0.50 = $250)
In order to qualify for the rebate, the barrels, tanks, or cisterns used to collect water must be new (purchased since June 1, 2013) and must include an overflow tube and screens. Barrels purchased directly from the City of Round Rock not eligible for the rebate.
See the application for complete rules and details. Submit the application once the barrels or tanks are installed, along with the purchase invoice. You will be contacted for an inspection of the system.
You may purchase the barrels and tanks from any vendor you choose for the rebate program. Here's just a short list of area retailers* where I've found them: (*please note, this isn't an all-inclusive list)
- Polymart (Austin) www.cityrainbarrelprogram.org
- Tank Town (2770 Hwy 290 W, Dripping Springs 78620)
- Hwy 290 Fence & Ranch Supply (2110 Hwy 290 W, Dripping Springs 78620)
- Timber Tanks (10608 Hwy 290 W, Austin 78736)
- EcoWise (110 W. Elizabeth St, Austin 78704) barrels
- Green Water (Austin) metal barrels
- Innovative Water Solutions: whole system installation, design, consultation
- Callahan's General Store (501 Bastrop Hwy/S Hwy 183, Austin 78741)
- Sometimes they are available at Lowes and The Home Depot garden centers
- Round Rock Gardens (901 Sam Bass Rd, Round Rock), has one model I've seen
- HEB Plus on HWY 79 has one in their garden center
- Zinger's Hardware & General Merchant (4001 N. Lamar, Ste 300, Austin 78756)
- www.tanksforless.com Huge assortment of tanks and barrels of all sizes
- The Natural Gardener (8648 Old Bee Caves Rd, Austin 78735)
- Tank Depot online or at 3303 Ranch Road 620 N, Austin 78734
- Plastic-Mart online sales of water tanks
Remember, rainwater harvesting components are tax-exempt per state law. Rainwater harvesting is permitted within the City; HOAs cannot prohibit it, however they may dictate where the tanks be located on the property.
Use collected rainwater on gardens, indoor and outdoor potted plants, and beds or to refill ponds and birdbaths.
Avoid overwatering the yard. Remember, overwatering or watering turf to its saturation point does not leave space at the top of your soil to be able to take in rain. When a yard is watered each time to its saturation point, free, good rainwater will simply runoff into the street. Irrigation systems are meant to be supplimentary to rainfall.
City rain barrels
When they are available, the City's Water Treatment Plant sells 55-gallon repurposed barrels (see picture at right) for use as rain barrels for a nominal price per barrel. They are available on a limited basis to City of Round Rock water customers. These barrels are not eligible for the rebate.
Currently, they are out of stock. Information will be posted when they are once again available, or contact the City's Water Laboratory at 512-218-5573 with questions.