Free and clear: A brief primer on harvesting rainfall
Those seeking a great way to help your landscape and decorative plants thrive should look to the clouds. The moisture in the sky that periodically falls to the ground as rain carries neither minerals nor monetary charges, so it has the potential to keep plants greener longer and perhaps thicken your wallet.
While everyone under a downpour benefits from the rain, those savvy enough to catch and contain it for later use in irrigation can receive the rewards of rainfall long after it stops.
Rain harvesting equipment is widely available. The tanks come in a huge range of styles, sizes and configurations which can be adapted on a small scale to catch a few gallons for watering houseplants to large tanks holding thousands of gallons. The larger tanks can mean a real reduction in the use of purchased water for irrigation consumption.
To catch rain all you need is a roof and gutters. The amounts that can be harvested are impressive. Every 1 inch of rain that falls on 1,000 square feet of roof will yield about 600 gallons.
One common household installation is the relatively simple, manufactured rain barrel which can be set up quickly to catch from a gutter downspout. The spout is either directed into the barrel or connected through a diverter device.
The City encourages the use of rain barrels or if desired, larger tanks, because we hope they can help reduce irrigation water use. Rain barrels and tanks also reduce strain on the city's storm water handling capacity.
However, note that a permit (PDF) is needed for systems larger than 400 gallons. Residents doing new installations of smaller systems need to fill out a registration form (PDF) and leave it with the City Water Conservation Inspector.
The City does not charge for registration and forms are available on the City website. Also, you will need follow the City's Ordinance for Rain Harvesting Systems (PDF) and ensure approval from your Property Owner's Association for the kind of tank or barrel and its placement.
The City does not allow water from rain collection devices to be used as potable water. Connection to an irrigation system on City water requires installation of a reduced pressure principle back-flow prevention assembly (RPZ) to ensure public safety from untreated rain water systems.
Rain barrels for homes are available at places such as Horseshoe Bay's Ace Hardware, and Lowe's and Home Depot in Marble Falls. A wide assortment can be ordered online, as well.
Additional information for Rain Harvesting Systems, Central Texas Installers and Central Texas Rainwater Websites of interest are accessible through the Quick Links module to the right.