The Value of Rainwater:
Water makes up about 71 percent of the EarthÕs surface. Saltwater contributes up to an estimated 97.5 percent of that volume. Freshwater accounts for approximately 2.5 percent of surface water, but only 0.003 percent of that is pure enough for human consumption.
Rainwater is responsible for depositing most of this freshwater onto the Earth, as well as it being a key component of the water cycle. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of just how precious rainwater really is. Read on to find out the true value of Mother Nature’s water and how much of an impact it might have on your homestead.
Water Shortages:
If you live in an area that faces frequent water shortages, a rainwater harvesting system can be a lifesaver for your homestead, your family, and your farm animals. When water shortages occur, the price of water goes up. Understandably, so does the demand.
But, with a rainwater harvesting system, you can stock up on a supply of free water, so you’ll have it in times of need. A rainwater tank is not only helpful in overcoming water shortages that occur in your area – over time, it also saves you money they can be better used on other things.
Drought:
Millions of people around the world face drought conditions every year, often with devastating results. Some new homesteaders don´t realize how hard it is to have water hauled to the farm and how fast that water will go, when you have livestock and gardens to water along with normal day to day life. It can get very expensive, not to mention a delay in getting water brought to you.
Back-up plans are essential when dealing with droughts. Water haulers are usually swamped when thereÕs a drought and it can be impossible to get a hold of them, sometimes taking days to track them down.
You might need to invest in a smaller empty storage tank and truck to haul the water yourself. Many local rural towns have a place to buy water. Usually itÕs in the form of a large hose on a pole for you to drive under to fill the tank.
This will pay for itself in the first year. Being about to buy water and haul it to your farm yourself will save you a lot of money and time. You will no longer have to rely on anyone else to bring you water. Your garden and animals will not have to suffer due to lack of water.
Just make sure that your truck can handle all the weight of the water. You don´t want to add another expense of a new transmission for your vehicle.
Lowering Expenses:
Using rainwater to supplement your current water usage levels can drastically reduce the amount you utilize from your local water supply, which saves you money on your water bill. In areas with ample rainfall, tap water can be replaced with rainwater in many ways – including gardening and water supply to the farm animals.
If your storage system is properly set up and maintained, you can also use rainwater in the house for cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes and more. Some households rely solely on rainwater for all of their needs, which eliminates their water bills entirely.
Self-Sufficient:
By harvesting rainwater, you rid yourself of a dependence on municipal water sources. Also, public water supplies occasional experience fluctuations in water quality. By maintaining your own water supply, it ensures that you always have access to quality water.
These are merely a few of the benefits of harvesting rainwater for your own use. Not only that, you also have access to a supply of water in the event of a shortage or emergency.
Ways to Use Harvested Rainwater:
Harvesting rainwater is nothing new. The practice can be traced back thousands of years, especially in Mediterranean countries that frequently experience hot weather and dry conditions.
In the United States, laws on rainwater collecting vary from state to state and municipality to municipality. Before you purchase any equipment, it’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with ordinances (if any) in your area. You don’t want to install a system, only to find out that you’re not allowed to do so.
There are many ways to use the water provided by Mother Nature. Believe it or not, thousands of households use rainwater as their only water source. Manly homes in rural areas where there are no other water supply available.
This eliminates the need to pay for the water which the city or town provides.
You don’t need a large roof to collect the water. But obviously, the larger the square footage, the more water you’ll be able to collect.
Data indicates that, on average, individuals who take advantage of using rainwater for daily use save between 30 percent and 50 percent on their water bills. Of course, the actual percentage is dependent on the actual size of their water collection system.
Here are four ways in which you can use harvested rainwater.
1. For Drinking:
Rainwater used for drinking purposes must be filtered prior to use. It is recommended that you use a commercial water filtration system to do so. For short-term or emergency use, rainwater can be boiled. The Centers for Disease Control suggests a boiling time of at least three minutes. Try adding a pinch of salt to improve the taste.
2. For Cooking:

Filtered rainwater is also suitable for cooking purposes. This is especially true if you’re going to use it to boil something. If you’re baking something where the pH level is important to the success of the dish, it’s a good idea to test the pH first. If it’s low, try adding baking soda to the recipe until you reach the desired level. PH testing strips are readily available at most big-box stores and online.


3. For Gardening:
Plants love rainwater! Many professional gardeners will be the first to admit that this is the best type of water to use for gardening. Rainwater is soft and slightly acidic. It is, for the most part, chemical free. All of these things make for healthier, happier, plants.
4. For Flushing the Toilet:
Many homeowners use rainwater to flush the toilet. No, they don’t just pour a bucket of it into the tank. They construct a mini-collection system that captures the rain from outside, filters it, sends it through a gravity-fed pipe to the inside plumbing and finally to the toilet itself. In many instances, charcoal is used for filtering purposes.
As a temporary solution, “greywater” can be recycled, simply by pouring into the tank before you flush. Greywater is defined as somewhat clean (waste) water from washing machines, bathtubs, etc.
To sum things up, rainwater can be used for almost anything that city-supplied water is used for. You just have to make sure that it is properly filtered before using it for human consumption.
Remember, taking advantage of this free water source is a great way to save money, and help the environment at the same time.
Estimating Your Water Needs for Your Homestead:
If you´re considering the installation of a rainwater harvesting system on your homestead, estimating your water needs is a step in the right direction. An assessment of your water usage (and the demand for it) provides a clear answer as to whether or not a rainwater harvesting system is right for you. Here are several things to consider when determining your water needs.

Water Usage:
How much water does your homestead use on average? By figuring out your water usage, you’ll be able to determine how much you need to invest in equipment. If you have a large household with livestock, you’ll obviously need a comparable system. However, if you are single or live in a smaller home with small livestock, installation costs will be lower, and you’ll still reap all of the benefits of using rainwater.


Current Availability:
Assessing the current availability of water in your area is another factor you need to consider in your decision to install a rainwater harvesting system. If youÕre starting a new homestead from scratch or an area where the cost of living is above average, a rainwater harvesting system can cut the cost of water for your home and protect you against water shortages.

Cost of Equipment and Upkeep:
Consider the cost of water collection system equipment, as well as necessary upkeep. Are you going to maintain your water harvesting system yourself or are you going to hire a company that specializes in this type of maintenance? Are you going to construct the system yourself or buy one that’s commercially available? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask before investing your time and resources.


Location:
If you live in a homestead community then you might be able to split the cost with others in your area to reduce the cost of installation. Or if your starting your homestead from scratch, ask others in the neighborhood about how much rain they get on average and what theyÕre using as a back-up water supply. Learn from their experience before you invest, you might be surprised at what you learn from them.

Reduce Costs:
A water harvesting system is ideal for people who simply canÕt afford to pay a huge water bill every month. If the need for water is very high, especially if you have livestock then investing in a rainwater-saving system for your homestead, this will reduce your monthly water costs significantly.
Especially, if you are going to live in an off grid tiny home, a small rainwater harvesting system is a must. Plus, the smaller system is also more economical to install.


Environmental Factors:
If you live in an area that is prone to frequent periods of drought, a harvesting system can help. In fact, if you are experiencing water shortages in your area, using rainwater could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
Now that you know a little bit more about the guidelines in regard to estimating your water needs, it’s time to make an informed decision. Remember, it’s a wise investment for people who are tired of high-water costs, for people living in areas experiencing drought and shortages, and for people who are wanting to live off the grid. Quite honestly, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Ways To Save Money by Using Greywater:
Using greywater is the ideal way to save money on your water bill and to reduce your consumption of the precious water supply. Most states encourage you to recycle this water as much as you possibly can. It’s not that difficult to do. Continue reading to learn more about it.
What Is Greywater?
If you’ve been around RV’s that have a toilet then you probably have heard the term greywater. It’s all the water in the camper that is from your shower and sink, that water goes into a separate tank and the sewage from the toilet goes into another tank.
The official definition of greywater is all waste water from households and businesses, with the exception of toilet water. This includes water from bathtubs, showers, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines. Unfortunately, a few states in the US still consider greywater to be sewage, deeming it unusable.
Greywater is often more accessible and in greater supply because it isn’t dependent on the weather. For this reason, smaller storage facilities can be used to contain a reasonable supply. Obviously, the quality of the water should be the determining factor in how it is used. Some of the most common uses include, but are not limited to, the factors described below.
Irrigation:
Greywater is appropriate for the irrigation of trees, food crops and lawns. Do not run this water through any type of sprinkling system. Apply it directly to the soil and avoid using it on crops that are meant to be eaten raw. In addition, never use this type of water on young plants or plants that require acidic soil. Greywater is not recommended for use in areas where run-off is impossible.
Homestead Use,
In regard to homestead use, greywater is generally used for such things as:
* To wash out feed bowls and animal cages.
* Put on garden, like mentioned above.

* Flushing toilets.
Graywater should never be used in the animals drinking water but saving this used water and using it again can give you great savings when it comes to watering your garden, that can get expensive, especially in drought conditions. You might be surprised at just how much money your saving on your water bill by reusing the water from your dish water or when you take a bath.


Household Use:
Greywater for household use is becoming more mainstream than ever before. One of the most popular methods of this is using dishwater or water from the washing machine to water the garden or indoor plants.
Flushing the toilet accounts for as much as 50 percent of the average household’s monthly water usage. Regardless of the condition of greywater, it is suitable for use in this manner. This is because the water ends up in the home’s septic system. Never pour greywater into the toilet tank itself, though. There’s a possibility that it may damage the flushing mechanism or get siphoned back into the fresh water supply, in the event of a pressure decrease.
As you can see, there are many ways to utilize greywater. Doing so on a personal level is just as important as on the corporate or industrial level. Whether it’s used “as is” or in treated form, it saves millions of gallons of water per year.
You can start out small if you don’t think that using greywater is for you. The good news is, the task is probably easier than you think. Remember, when it comes to saving the environment, every little bit helps.
Why Are Some Places Outlawing Rainwater Collection?
More and more homeowners (and businesses alike) are making a conscious decision to harvest rainwater. It’s an excellent way to simultaneously reduce their water bills and do their part in helping the environment. Even so, some jurisdictions in the U.S. continue to outlaw rainwater collection, to some extent. Keep reading to find out why.
Dry Climates:
States such as California, which experience frequent drought, frown on the collection of rainwater. This is due, in part, to the fact that there isn’t enough water to go around. The premise is that the water is needed to fill lakes, ponds and reservoirs. It also has something to do with “prior appropriation.”
In several Western states, the doctrine referring to prior appropriation goes way back. In fact, it’s written to Colorado’s Constitution. Simply stated, the rain that falls on a landowner’s property doesn’t really belong to them, because it’s already spoken for.
It all started with early settlers racing to obtain water rights on their new land. Since agriculture is still a huge industry in the West, the long-ago doctrine helps to keep it profitable… by allocating surplus rainwater to farming.
As recently as 2007, it was legal to both sell and own a rain barrel. However, it was illegal to use it for its intended purpose. How crazy is that?
Eliminating Eyesores:
Many condominium associations and gated communities prohibit the act of collecting rainwater, because they feel it deters from the overall beauty of the community. In other words, a rainwater harvesting system is an unnecessary eyesore that has the potential to “clutter up” the neighborhood. So, the best way to prevent the clutter is to outlaw harvesting altogether.
The Bottom Line:
In the majority of areas where it’s illegal to collect rainwater, chances are those who break the law will only receive a small fine – unless they continue doing it. After repeated warnings, additional repercussions may apply.
Using rainwater has many benefits. Unfortunately, there will always be some level of controversy as to whether or not it should be allowed. Erroneous information just heightens the argument. That’s why it’s extremely important to do your own research on the subject.
It’s important to note that there isn’t a federal ban on collecting water when it rains. Nor is there a government agency that oversees things on a national level. It’s left up to each individual state. Many states don’t seem to have an opinion on the matter one way or another, which means residents can harvest all of the water that they see fit. So, the situation is not as complicated as some people make it.
That being said, it’s still a wise idea to familiarize yourself with all state and local laws before investing in a rainwater harvesting system. It’s not uncommon for ordinances to change, on a somewhat frequent basis.
The last thing you want to do is to spend time and money setting up your equipment, only to find that reusing rain water is illegal in your area. As the old saying goes, “it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Harvesting Rainwater:
Harvesting rainwater is nothing new to many seasoned homesteaders, but it might be something that you’ve not thought of if you’re moving from the city to start your own homestead and where your water supply back home was never a concern.
As you might guess, there are both advantages and disadvantages to collecting water supplied by Mother Nature. Continue reading to learn more.
1. Advantages of Harvesting Rainwater:
Rain water is considered to be the main source of drinking water in many rural locations. Due to the process of evaporation and the fact that air is cleaned when it rains, rainwater is free from the man-made contaminants and other unhealthy pollutants often present in ground water. Here are some additional advantages.
Lower Water Bills:
Who doesn’t want a lower water bill? Harvesting rainwater makes it possible. Whether it’s for residential or homesteading, utilizing this water impacts the amount of money necessary to cover a monthly bill… for the better.
Suitable for Non-Drinking Purposes:
Rainwater is suitable for many purposes other than drinking. Use it for things like doing laundry, watering the lawn, garden or livestock, flushing toilets and cleaning purposes.
Ease of Maintenance :
Once you choose and install your water-harvesting system, however big or small, overall maintenance is very simple. It costs much less to maintain than other water-pumping or purifying systems. This is due, in part, to the fact that the water can generally be used “as is” without any purification efforts at all.
Reduces Soil Erosion:
Collecting rainwater reduces soil erosion and flooding during the rainy season. It also reduces the possibility of surface water contamination, which eventually ends up in ponds or lakes.
2. Disadvantages of Harvesting Rainwater:
Of course, there are also disadvantages of harvesting rainwater. Nothing in life or nature is foolproof. These disadvantages include the following:
Storage Limitations:
You can only collect as much water as your storage system accommodates. In the event of a heavy downpour, chances are you won’t be able to harvest all of the rainwater you’d like to. For that reason, consider purchasing the largest containers and/or system you can afford.
Uncertain Rainfall:
Mother Nature is very unpredictable. There’s absolutely no way of knowing how much rain will fall from one week to the next. The best areas to harvest water are those that generally get quite a lot of rain. You don’t want to depend on rainwater for the majority of your water-related needs in locations that experience frequent droughts.
Up-Front Costs :
Typically, the up-front cost of a rainwater harvesting system can be as little as $200 or into the thousands. It all depends on the level of technology you’re interested in purchasing. The good news is this is a recoverable cost. The time it takes to break even and then profit depends on the amount of money you actually spend on your water bill.
These are just a few of the advantages and disadvantages to harvesting rain water. If this is something that interests you, you have several options available to you. Whether you start out slow, collecting the water in one or two 30-gallon barrels, or purchase a ready-made system, chances are it won’t take long for you to reap the rewards.
Is Rainwater Safe?
Harvested rainwater is a tried-and-true water source for many. But, some people remain skeptical as to whether or not it’s a safe alternative to tap water or bottled water from a store. The short answer is that rainwater is not always safe to drink in its natural state. Read further to learn more.
Is It Safe for Human Consumption?
Most rainwater is safe to drink. In fact, it may come as a surprise that rainwater is the main supply of drinking water for much of the worldÕs population. The level of contaminants in rainwater is low. So low, in fact, that it sometimes rivals public water supplies, cisterns and wells.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that rain does collect bacteria. ItÕs not uncommon to run into the occasional bug carcass or bird dropping when collecting rain water, so treating your harvested water before using it is strongly advised.
What to Avoid:
If there are contaminants in the air, rainwater collects them before falling to the ground. This means that if thereÕs a manufacturing plant emitting toxins into the air, your collected rain water is going to be somewhat polluted as well. If you live in a heavily industrialized area with a lot of smog and pollutants, rainwater in that area needs to be treated before it’s deemed safe for human consumption. But for most homesteads that are out in rural areas thereÕs no need to worry much about pollutants in the air.
For some, the cost and effort of treating heavily polluted rain water isnÕt worth it, in the end. That being said, youÕre always going to have better results with the purity of your collected rainwater based on your location.
The same applies to collecting rain water run-off. If youÕre harvesting run-off from an industrial building, the water may contain harmful chemicals from the roof and other surfaces. ItÕs best to avoid this method and to avoid collecting rainwater from puddles, unless you have a filtering system. Remember, to be safe, never use dirty receptacles to harvest rainwater. There’s never a good reason to take that chance.
Collecting water in rural areas, you should always collect from running streams or springs. Never from stagnant water unless it is run through some type of filtering device.
Other Environmental Factors:
There are many environmental factors to consider when collecting rainwater. Most are unavoidable and raise no concern as long as you take the necessary steps to remedy them. Things like dust, pollen and microorganisms have the ability to appear in your collected rainwater. By simply filtering your water, you’ll easily avoid a lot of these minor issues.
It’s a good idea to let your rainwater sit for at least an hour, so that any noticeable debris settles to the bottom. This makes it easier to filter water thoroughly when the time comes. If you are concerned about acid rain, remember that it’s very rare to find water that doesnÕt have a natural acidity level. The only time that acid rain can truly harm you is if you’re collecting rainwater around an active volcano. In other words, its typically not an issue that merits concern.
As long as water is kept clean and your harvesting and storage equipment is properly maintained, rainwater is safe to use as an alternative to other drinking water sources. It’s filtered naturally and picks up a low level of contaminates as it falls. Not only that, but the impurities that do find their way into rainwater are easily filtered out, giving you water as free of contaminates as public sources.
If you ever have a doubt about the waters safeness, just boil it first before drinking.
Assessing Your Location for Water Availability:
Harvesting rainwater is a simple and environmentally-friendly way to conserve water and save money. Believe it or not, for some households itÕs the only source of water. A rainwater harvesting system provides you with extra water for outdoor use, emergencies and even household use, if treated and stored properly. But, how do you know if harvesting rainwater is a viable option in your area? Keep reading to learn more.
The Water Cycle:
The water cycle consists of all the steps our environments water goes through, from evaporation to precipitation. Evaporating water from lakes, rivers and other sources travels into our atmosphere as vapor, then falls back to the earth as rain when it cools. This cycle leads to some areas being fairly rainy, while other areas remain quite dry. Changes in our planetÕs climate also affect the level of precipitation an area experiences, which typically leads to a shift in water availability.
Current Supplies:
Many households are connected to a water supply, provided by the city in which they reside. In cases like this, supplementing water use with harvested rainwater lowers both costs and demand on the water supply. For other households where very little water is available, maintaining a personal water supply is a must. Installing a tank, even as small as a rain barrel, reduces water use and conserves water supplied by the city.
Poor Water Supply:
Obviously, lack of rain causes an area to have a limited supply of water for residential and business usage. When municipal water supplies are low, a temporary ban on specific uses of water (such as gardening) is often put into place.
In areas that experience seasonal droughts, harvesting and storing rain water during rainy months is ideal. This gives households an extra supply of water to use for gardening and other things if a ban is put in place. It makes sense that the less rain an area receives, the larger the storage tank necessary to collect the rain water.
Water Quality Issues:
Water availability becomes an issue when there is a decrease in the quality of water in the areaÕs water supply. Periods of heavy rainfall cause run-off into lakes and rivers, washing contaminants into the water supply. In addition, water treatment facilities and sewage systems are overwhelmed by all of the extra rain.
Along coastlines, a rise in the sea level can also move saltwater into reserves of freshwater. This generally causes a need for desalination, or the need to rely on an alternative water source. Standing water supplies can also easily be affected by industrial waste or other environmental factors, while rainwater tends to be of good quality.
In areas with poor water availability, rainwater harvesting can provide water during times of need, as well as supplement normal supplies. Even in areas where water is more readily available, rainwater can act as a clean and renewable source of water for gardening and emergencies. No matter what your water availability or needs, there are many different water harvesting systems to choose from.
Assessing Your Location for Water Availability:
Harvesting rainwater is a simple and environmentally-friendly way to conserve water and save money. Believe it or not, for some households itÕs the only source of water. A rainwater harvesting system provides you with extra water for outdoor use, emergencies and even household use, if treated and stored properly. But, how do you know if harvesting rainwater is a viable option in your area? Keep reading to learn more.
The Water Cycle:
The water cycle consists of all the steps our environments water goes through, from evaporation to precipitation. Evaporating water from lakes, rivers and other sources travels into our atmosphere as vapor, then falls back to the earth as rain when it cools. This cycle leads to some areas being fairly rainy, while other areas remain quite dry. Changes in our planetÕs climate also affect the level of precipitation an area experiences, which typically leads to a shift in water availability.
Current Supplies:
Many households are connected to a water supply, provided by the city in which they reside. In cases like this, supplementing water use with harvested rainwater lowers both costs and demand on the water supply. For other households where very little water is available, maintaining a personal water supply is a must. Installing a tank, even as small as a rain barrel, reduces water use and conserves water supplied by the city.
Poor Water Supply:
Obviously, lack of rain causes an area to have a limited supply of water for residential and business usage. When municipal water supplies are low, a temporary ban on specific uses of water (such as gardening) is often put into place.
In areas that experience seasonal droughts, harvesting and storing rain water during rainy months is ideal. This gives households an extra supply of water to use for gardening and other things if a ban is put in place. It makes sense that the less rain an area receives, the larger the storage tank necessary to collect the rain water.
Water Quality Issues:
Water availability becomes an issue when there is a decrease in the quality of water in the areaÕs water supply. Periods of heavy rainfall cause run-off into lakes and rivers, washing contaminants into the water supply. In addition, water treatment facilities and sewage systems are overwhelmed by all of the extra rain.
Along coastlines, a rise in the sea level can also move saltwater into reserves of freshwater. This generally causes a need for desalination, or the need to rely on an alternative water source. Standing water supplies can also easily be affected by industrial waste or other environmental factors, while rainwater tends to be of good quality.
In areas with poor water availability, rainwater harvesting can provide water during times of need, as well as supplement normal supplies. Even in areas where water is more readily available, rainwater can act as a clean and renewable source of water for gardening and emergencies. No matter what your water availability or needs, there are many different water harvesting systems to choose from.
How to Maintain Stored Rainwater:
Choosing to use and store rainwater is essential for a homesteader with crops and livestock for when there is a drought and to save you time and money at the same time. So, what is the best way to properly maintain this stored water so that it remains clean and fresh? Read on for maintenance tips and information regarding the equipment needed to properly preserve your supply.
Filter Your Rainwater:
It’s not necessary to filter your rainwater if youÕre using it to water plants or livestock. However, you should always filter it if you’re using it for human consumption. You can purchase filters specifically designed for this purpose, or you can use a (porous) clean fabric like cotton to save on expenses. By filtering the water, you remove any debris that may contain spores or plant matter that has the ability to grow inside of your storage tank.
Clean Your Storage Tank:
The cause of rainwater becoming stagnant and developing an unpleasant odor is due to algae production and debris. It is strongly recommended that you clean your rainwater storage tank every time it is emptied. Cleaning your storage tank with chlorified water helps to prevent any algae growth that might occur and keeps your water cleaner for longer.


It is important to note that in warmer climates, bacteria and algae may grow at a more rapid pace. Another method used for cleaning is to add a very small amount of chlorine to your storage tank to prevent growth of organic matter. This method, however, results in water that isnÕt safe for human consumption.
Also by adding a mesh screen over the water tank can help keep out leaves and debriso, helping to keep the tank cleaner longer.


Types of Storage:
The type of receptacle used to store your collected rainwater is just as important as the cleaning and filtering process. You want a storage container that is opaque so that no light can pass through, complete with a fitted lid. With an opaque storage tank, the sun won’t be able to penetrate the tank and start the production of algae. The fitted lid prevents any debris from falling in and potentially contaminating your water.
If you are using rainwater for plants only, a translucent storage tank can also be used. Algae production is more likely to occur when using this type of tank, but the cleanliness of the rainwater is not as important in this case.
Clean Your Gutters and Pipes:
Cleaning your gutters is an easy and simple way to ensure that your water stays clean and your tank works efficiently. The same applies to the pipes that the water flows through to enter the storage container.
It is recommended that you clean your gutters of any debris and/or plant matter build-up every three months. Installing gutter meshing is a very useful tool for people who collect and store rainwater. It significantly cuts the time and effort put in to filtering your water.
Rainwater can be just as free of impurities as water from public sources, as long as your storage and collection equipment is kept clean. This is especially important if you plan to store water for human consumption. However, as long as it is properly maintained, rainwater is a healthy and economic alternative to other sources.