rain water harvesting

Save Water and Collect Rainwater!

A Great Idea

As society becomes more aware that our natural resources are being depleted faster than they can renew themselves, we have come up with more ways to conserve and protect them. Have you ever considered collecting rainwater and putting it to good use? Think about every private and public property in the city. Now think about how much water each of those properties use. That’s a lot of water, isn’t it? Now try to imagine every single one of those properties collecting rainwater and using it for some of their water needs. Imagine how much of our municipal water source would be conserved. I know that it’s a stretch to think about every single property in the city collecting rainwater, but I think it’s possible for a rainwater harvesting movement to start with more homeowners in the city.

An Inside Look to Round Rock’s Water Usage

As our city grows, our water use does too. Have you ever wondered how much water is withdrawn from our water source (Lake Georgetown) in one day? According to the City of Round Rock Water Production Report, in August (one of the hottest summer months) produced a daily average of 28.1 million gallons of water.  Lake Georgetown supplies water to Georgetown, Round Rock, and Brushy Creek MUD. Think about those three cities water use in one day all together…

Some might ask, “Why would I collect rainwater and what would I use it for?”

Ways to use collected rainwater

  • Water landscape (via hand watering or hooking up to irrigation system)
  • Water gardens
  • Water indoor plants
  • Washing cars
  • Household cleaning

Some more complex uses

  • Refilling pools, fountains, or bird baths
  • Washing clothes (if connected)
  • Flushing toilets (if connected)

Benefits of rainwater harvesting

The benefits of collecting rainwater are countless, but here are just a few to get you thinking about how it could directly affect you.

  • Non-chlorinated water is better for plants and landscapes
  • Reduces erosion on properties
  • Reduces rainwater runoff that would be contaminated
  • It can be used as a backup water source for emergencies
  • Reduces demand on municipal water sources
  • Reduced water bills because rainwater is FREE
  • It uses simple technologies
  • Easy to install
  • There’s a rebate from the City!  https://www.roundrocktexas.gov/rebates/

Something to think about

Here in Texas the weather can be a little strange to say the least. One month we could have large amounts of rain and the next could be completely dry. Just think about this past spring of 2019. It rained a total of 17.4 inches, averaging about 4 inches a month. (March-June) Then in July it felt like it just stopped raining and we started heading towards drought conditions. During the hot and dry summer months (July-September) it rained a total of 1.56 inches of rain.

Half of Williamson County is in severe drought as I’m writing this. We aren’t under any water restrictions, but it’s scary to think about the water usage and replenishing ratio. As it gets hotter and dryer here in central Texas, a lot of homeowners start watering their lawns and plants more. I mean nobody wants their lawns and plants to die! Thankfully, this fall has brought down some temperatures and brought us some rain.

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Picture this

This is an example of how much water a common house would use for irrigation. In this scenario, I will be using the average lawn size for a home in Texas.

Front and backyard lawn total- 7,552 sq. ft

A lawn needs about 1 inch of water (0.623 gallons) per square foot during summer months.

So that means I must multiply the 1 inch of water (0.623 gallons) by the amount of square feet there are in that lawn.  7,552 X 0.623= 4,705 gallons

If I water twice a week, that’s 9,410 gallons per week!

Now think about some of those huge commercial properties that have a lot of land to water.

Each number is in thousands of gallons. Click here for more information

How much water can be collected?

Some might ask, “will I even be able to collect enough water for actual usage?” or “would this really make an impact?”.  According to the Texas Water Development Board, for every inch of rainfall that falls on a 2,000 square foot roof, the rainfall collection yields to about 1,000 gallons.

Here’s an example of how much water you could collect during a rainy spring to use during a dry and hot summer.

Rainfall amounts from (March-June 2019) reached 17.40 inches in Central Texas.
According to the US Census, the average home in the US South is 2,392 square feet.

You will get 0.623 gallons (1 inch of water) for one square foot of your roof

2,392 X 0.632= 1,490 

1,490 X 17.4= 25,926 gallons

25,926 gallons of water collected during spring. If you wanted, you could use all that rainwater instead of your irrigation for a whole month! It would be especially helpful if the city were to go on mandatory water restrictions during a drought.

Collecting Rainwater can be simple!

Whether you are going to DYI or buy a container for storing rain, there are three basic components of a rainwater harvesting system.

  1. Catchment area- roof (impervious cover) that catches rain.
  2. Conveyance system- transporting rainwater from catchment area to storage (gutters and downspout)  
  3. Storage- container for storing rainwater. You can attach a rain barrel to your home’s downspout.

There are great guides to installing rainwater harvesting systems

The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting from the Texas Water Development Board to learn how to install your own rainwater harvesting system.

American Rainwater Catchment Association

Collecting rainwater is a great way to help save the most precious natural resource, water. It also will help YOU save money! The benefits are endless, and you will be doing your part to help protect Earth.

 

 

 

It’s Baaack!

springsaver rainbarrel_9-9-14

50-gallon Spring Saver

By “It”, I mean another rain barrel sale!  The Cities of Round Rock & Hutto are working together to promote a rain barrel sale!  It’s by preorder, so you place the order for the barrels online, then come pick them up on a specific day.  There is no limit on the quantity of barrels you may order, and sale isn’t limited to Round Rock or Hutto residents.  Anyone can purchase one; however the last day to order is April 24, 2015. 

Three sizes of rain barrels are being offered, as well as a diverter to make it easier to get the water from your gutter downspout into the barrel:

  • 50-gallon Spring Saver, 6 color choices, $64.99
  • 54-gallon Rain Saver, 3 color choices, $84.99
  • Classic 100-gallon, 28 colors, $208.65
  • Water diverter kits for $15.99 or $21
rainsaver rainbarrel_9-9-14

54-gallon Rain Saver

The Barrel distribution will happen on Saturday, May 2nd at the Dell Diamond.  Once you make your purchase, you’ll be emailed all the relevant pick-up information.

To pre-order and full details:  www.cityrainbarrelprogram.org

A very limited selection of barrels will be available for sale on May 2nd, so plan ahead and purchase yours today to ensure you get the colors you want! 

Why collect rainwater??  I’ve talked about it in previous posts, and condense the “whys” here:

  1. Rainwater is much better for plants than the municipal water supply (it’s generally higher in nitrogen and it’s softer water), which probably is THE main reason people collect it.
    classic rainbarrel_9-9-14

    100-gallon Classic

  2. However, an often overlooked, and just as good reason is for erosion control. You don’t have to actually “use” the water collected, but if you could at least slow it down on your property; that would aid in reducing the amount of erosion your property is subjected to.  You can collect the water and then just release it, slowly, over your yard a few days after the rain event. Then the barrel(s) is empty and ready to collect the next rain event and you don’t have any worries about mosquitos!
  3. It’s free, and
  4. Tax-exempt! The water falling from the sky is free, and the purchase of collection containers has been tax-exempt in Texas since 2001.  To assist you with collecting this precious resource, the City of Round Rock has a rebate for installing water collection tanks or barrels. (This rebate is available for direct City of Round Rock water customers only.)

Catch the rain before it’s gone!

Once again, the huge amount of rains in the last weeks have made me think a lot about how to take more advantage of rainwater, or really, just collect more.

Which leads me to a question I was asked once that was along the lines of “I feel like I should be collecting rainwater, but don’t have any plants to water. Why should I do it?” It’s true, rainwater is so much better for your plants than the municipal water supply (it’s generally higher in nitrogen and it’s softer water), which probably is THE main reason people collect it. However, an often overlooked, just as good reason is for erosion control. You don’t have to actually “use” the water collected, but if you could at least slow it down on your property; that would aid in reducing the amount of erosion your property is subjected to.

An easy visualization of this is the divots or valleys along the sides of a house where the rain pours off the roof and bangs into the ground-typically if you don’t have gutters. See the picture on the right–it’s VERY obvious where the water lands when it runs off the roof. Where does the soil go that used to occupy that space? Well, it gets carried off down into the street, into the storm water system, which flows into our creeks. By the way, this water isn’t cleaned or treated; it doesn’t go to the wastewater plant.

So, if that water can be slowed down, or stopped, that’s less soil that will be robbed from your yard each time it rains. You can collect the water and then just release it, slowly, over your yard a few days after the rain event. Then the barrel(s) is empty and ready to collect the next rain event and you don’t have any worries about mosquitoes!

Two more good reasons for collecting rainwater include:

1. It’s free and 2. Tax-exempt! The water falling from the sky is free, and the purchase of collection containers has been tax-exempt in Texas since 2001.

To assist you with collecting this precious resource, the City of Round Rock has a rebate for installing water collection tanks or barrels. (This rebate is available for direct City of Round Rock water customers only.)  Round Rock is also having a rainbarrel sale that is going on currently until November 9, 2014:

Three sizes of rain barrels are being offered:

  • 50-gallon Spring Saver, 6 color choices, $64.99
  • 54-gallon Rain Saver, 3 color choices, $84.99
  • Classic 100-gallon, 28 colors, $208.65
  • Also water diverter kits for $15.99 or $21

The barrels will be distributed on Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th at the Dell Diamond NE parking lot.  This is located behind the Prosperity Bank.  To order barrels, go to http://www.cityrainbarrelprogram.org/  You do not have to be a City of Round Rock water customer or resident to purchase any of these products.  There is no limit to how many you can purchase.

All the details to both of these City programs can be found at www.roundrocktexas.gov/waterconservation

Reminder on rainbarrel and compost bin sale

Spring is nearly officially here, it happens on March 20!  I wanted to remind you that the Water Conservation Program is having another rainbarrel sale, which ends on March 31, 2014!  These are the same 50-gallon Ivy barrels and 65-gallon Moby barrels that were sold last year. You can pre-purchase barrels, online at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/centraltexas.  There WILL be some “extra” barrels available for sale the day of the event, however, we cannot hold them or guarantee the amount we will have–it’s first come, first served.

The pre-ordered barrels will be distributed on Saturday, April 5, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. until noon at the Southwest Williamson County Park near the Quarry Splash Pad.  For those of you that purchased barrels last April, it’s the same place. This is the County Park just north of the 1431 – Sam Bass Road/FM 175 intersection.  It’s the one with the train.

Barrels purchased at this event ARE eligible for the City’s rainwater rebate. There will be applications for the rebate provided on the distribution date.  You must be a City of Round Rock water customer in order to receive the rebate. You do not have to be a City water customer in order to purchase the barrels or compost bins though.

One thing that is a little different than last year is that compost bins will be available for purchase too.  Find out more at the same www.rainbarrelprogram.org/centraltexas link.  They will be distributed during the same event.  A picture of them is below.

There is no limit — except your space and $$ — to how many barrels you can purchase; and if you are looking for something larger than 65-gallons, you can certainly purchase tanks from another vendor and apply for the rebate.  I have a list of mostly local vendors that sell tanks on the Rainwater Page of the website.

I hope to see you at the park on April 5!