Rainwater Harvesting: 5 Things To Know

Water is a limited resource. This is especially true in countries like Australia where extreme droughts are common. With that said, homeowners should look and implement ways that can help conserve water and ensure that they have enough water when rain is hard to come by. One of the most efficient ways to do this is via rainwater harvesting.

This article would discuss some of the basic things you need to know about rainwater harvesting.

1. You Need A Rainwater Harvesting System

According to The Water Tank Factory, rainwater harvesting means collecting and storing rainwater. Most people don’t have a dedicated rainwater harvesting system and often use buckets or large gallon containers to collect and store rainwater.

However, in countries like Australia, homeowners often install a dedicated rainwater harvesting system. This allows them to effectively collect large amounts of rainwater use it for a variety of reasons.

In general, a rainwater harvesting system consists of:

  • Conveyance System: Downpipes and gutters channelling the water from the roof or other collection surface into a rainwater tank.
  • Filters And Diverters: These parts help filter out leaves and other debris as well as ensure dirt-free water in the storage tank.
  • Storage Tank: This is where the collected rainwater is stored. 
  • Distribution System: This system includes a series of pipes and pumps used to transport the rainwater from the tank to where it’ll be used.

 2. Collected Rainwater Can Be Used In A Variety Of Purposes

In general, rainwater is used for most household chores and to supplement or even replace a municipal water supply entirely. 

With untreated rainwater, you can use it for:

  • Irrigating a lawn or garden
  • Refilling ponds and fountains
  • Washing vehicles and outdoor areas
  • Indoor non-potable fixtures such as toilets
  • Drinking water for livestock

It’s also possible to use collected rainwater for drinking and other potable uses, given that the water is treated properly. Water filtration and treatment systems are easy to source and allow you to use collected rainwater for:

  • Drinking
  • Cooking
  • Washing dishes
  • Bathing and showering

3. There Are Different Ways To Harvest Rainwater

In general, there are three years to collect rainwater via various systems and methods. 

  • Rain Barrels

The most affordable and simplest way to harvest rainwater. You simply place a water tank or barrel below your downspout. Then, you can connect this tank or barrel to a pipe for drip irrigation.

  • Wet System

In a wet system, most collection pipes are connected to the downspouts. These pipes will divert the water into the storage tank that’s located underground. Thus, the collection pipes should be secured and well-maintained in order to prevent water leakage into the soil. 

  • Dry System

With a dry system, you’re using a larger storage container for the rainwater. This is often placed a few metres away from your home. Thus, the gutter system should be redesigned so water can be diverted into this large storage tank.

4.The Rainwater You Collect Will Depend On Several Factors

Most people wonder just how much rainwater they can collect and store. With that said, there are three major factors that influence the water volume you can harvest:

  • The annual rainfall and distribution over the year: Rainfall is hard to predict, especially in Australia. Of course, without rain, you won’t be able to collect rainwater at all.
  • The size of your roof or surface area catching the rain: For roofs, this is often calculated by finding the area of your home and adding the area of your roof’s overhang.
  • The size of the rainwater storage tank: This will determine the volume of rainwater that you’re able to store.

If you want to calculate an estimated volume of water that your rainwater harvesting system can capture and store, you can use this formula:

Harvest Water (litres) = Rainfall Depth (mm) x Roof Surface Area (m2)

You can simply Google the average precipitation, rainfall variability, and the number of days of rainfall that your area receives.

5. You Don’t Need Special Roofing But There’s A Catch

Most roof types can accommodate rainwater harvesting. Slate, tin, tile, and ceramic are excellent roof materials because of their smooth surface. Asphalt shingles also work well with rainwater harvesting.

However, the problem lies in the manufacturing process of some roof materials. This includes the application of biocides on the roof material. Biocides tend to disrupt the stasis of rainwater harvesting system, which can cause system-wide failures. 

Meanwhile, shake or wood roof types aren’t suitable for rainwater collection due to the contaminants that grow and seep into the water causing poor water quality. It’s recommended that you check with a rainwater harvesting expert to determine if your current roof material is suitable for rainwater collection.


And there you have it. Reduce your water utility bill and never run out of water amidst summer by setting up your rainwater harvesting system.

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