Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

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Thomzo
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Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255826 Thomzo
Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:55 am

Hi
Another plea for help with my Open University course please. I'm doing a study into rainwater harvesting for my current module and I'd really like to hear your experiences. It can be anything from a small water butt to a full-scale off-grid system. I'm really just looking for general comments: what you use, its good/bad points, any problems or bad experiences, cost (if you want to admit it) and savings made? If you don't have any sort of rainwater harvesting then why (e.g. live in a flat or don't have a suitable downpipe)?

Thank you
Zoe

Edited to add that I now have a survey on the subject if you could spare a couple of minutes please (there are only 5 questions).

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WTP2MKQ

Thanks
Last edited by Thomzo on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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contadina
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255834 contadina
Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:26 am

We have a 100,000-litre underground cistern, which stores all the water caught off our roof and driveway. It's not potable, but provides everything bar our drinking water. We added a couple of filters to clean the water and take care of any smells (as it's such a big cistern it can get smelly after heavy rains). You can add extra filters including UV ones to make the water drinkable, which is something we will probably do one-day, when we build a slightly smaller cistern, to catch water from a part of the drive not currently included in our water catchment system.

As with much of Europe, houses in the Italian countryside are not connected to mains water, so developing a sizeable rain catchment area and cistern are the norm as are fountains to provide drinking water.

We are very lucky to have such a large cistern as we've never had to buy water despite very long, hot summers (we don't normally see any rain from March/April until September/October) when temperatures are mainly in the upper-30s to mid-40s.

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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255837 Davie Crockett
Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:13 am

3x Large water butts attached to my sheds. I'm considering more to attach to the house as it is soakaway and therefore (IMO) wasted.

Used for potting and gardening purposes.
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255879 baldybloke
Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:23 pm

I have 2 large water butts supplied from the shed/wood store roof linked together, then an overflow to a soak away. I also have a smaller water butt linked to the house guttering at the rear of the property. This gives me ample water for watering plants.
I was considering putting a couple more on the back of the garage but have yet to get around to this.
Has anyone seen the plot, I seem to have lost mine?

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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255902 JuzaMum
Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:12 pm

Hi

We collect rainwater in two butts and in summer collect the grey water from baths for the lawn

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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255905 seasidegirl
Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:32 pm

I've tried various homemade systems in the garden. Once I collected water off the roof of a barn and managed to run it quite a way away and collect it in a tank. I even managed to get the water running up hill but raising the water butt to build the pressure. The problem was having enough storage facility to make the most of it.

This winter I'm in a very different place. Have few resources but decided to put a line of buckets I got for free along a fence.
The drawback was the drought. The buckets are barely half full. Another one was I nearly drowned a toad. He got into the bucket but couldn't get back out. Luckily I found him in time and he was fine.

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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255907 hedgewizard
Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:38 pm

Usual butts on downspouts, and extruded PVC 'tunnel gutters' on the polytunnel.
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255938 Millymollymandy
Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:58 am

I have water butts but care has to be taken in winter as the smaller ones tend to crack when frozen solid but they can be turned into excellent compost bins if holes are drilled all around the water butt and underneath for the worms to enter and for air flow.

I am not happy with IBCs as they have a short shelf life - the taps go and whatever my husband tries as a replacement tap just keeps on dripping. We have tried everything but basically have one that is useless now. Given how much they cost (even second hand) compared to how long they last (approx 6 years) and the amount of water we can save with them (max 2 m3 per season) it is cheaper to get the hose out and use mains water. :(

The plus side is, when the original big taps are on them, they fill a watering can in seconds so for watering with watering cans they are a very handy source of fast water, even when we have to fill them up with mains water which is sometimes the case during a dry spring or summer. The amount of times I have to walk backwards and forwards with watering cans makes it very handy to not have to hang around waiting for a watering can to fill.
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255955 Carltonian Man
Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:38 am

Three rainwater butts in the garden and two on the allotment. The two garden shed butts are connected and run to a tap, placed for easier access, near the front of the shed. The greenhouse butt (tucked away half into the hedge) runs to a tap next to the door (pictured). All butts have tops fitted to stop the water turning green and are used solely for watering plants.
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255957 wulf
Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:44 am

I've filled in the online survey but I'll summarise here as well for the thread. I've got a couple of water butts attached to the downpipe at the front of the house (and an old bin in the polytunnel that I manually fill from these). The main use is watering the garden although it is also convenient as a supply for washing tools and rinsing out my kitchen scraps bucket. I am thinking of expanding capacity this year - even though my garden isn't huge, they soon run dry in a hot season.

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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255964 pelmetman
Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:10 am

We have 2 x 500 litre butts in the yard, bought in France 6+ years ago for less than £70 a bargain :thumbright: collecting water off the garage roof........ 300 litre pre war butt collecting off the old stables, which on occaission leaks like a sieve.......... then self heals :shock: .........and another 175 litre which collects off the sunlounge and back roof, we always use this butt first as it fills the quickest...............and not forgetting the plastic dustbin inside the shed which collects water from the greenhouse, and then using a drip hose turns the recycled greenhouse into a "self watering greenhouse"...........ideal now we go away so much :pirate:........the picture was taken before I installed the guttering along the front :mrgreen:

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French Butts
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Self watering Greenhouse
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Magic self healing water butt
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #255967 Millymollymandy
Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:22 pm

I was just looking at the price of 100,000 litre tanks and worked out at our current usage (let's say 200m3 including garden p.a.) it would take us about 49 years to break even. :lol:

I can't see us ever getting enough rainfall to fill the whole thing twice a year though!
boboff wrote:Oh and just for MMM, :hugish: (thanks)


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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #256017 Thomzo
Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:19 pm

Thank you all for your comments and thanks, also, for the photos. They are really helpful. I particularly like the idea of a self-watering greenhouse. I tried something similar once but it didn't really work. I know what you mean about water butts not lasting, Mandy. I now have two wormeries that started out life as water butts. I hadn't realised that IBCs were so short lived either, that's good to know as I was considering investing in a couple.

I did look into the price per litre stored. Big tanks work out considerably cheaper until you factor in having to lay a suitable base or dig a pit for an underground tank. No way could I consider an underground tank with this stoney, clay soil.

Has anybody considered something like an underground tank and been put off by the cost?

Zoe
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #256030 hedgewizard
Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:58 pm

Millymollymandy wrote: The amount of times I have to walk backwards and forwards with watering cans makes it very handy to not have to hang around waiting for a watering can to fill.


Hi MMM! Um... get a second can. That way you're watering with one while the other fills, and you can adjust the tap so that the timing's just perfect. Watering the polytunnel would be a major job if I only had one can!
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Re: Rainwater harvesting - your experiences

Post: #256035 KathyLauren
Wed Mar 07, 2012 9:12 pm

We have a 20,000 litre rainwater irrigation system. We get 1500 mm of rain a year, but almost none of it falls during the growing season. Since our well doesn't produce enough water for irrigation, rainwater storage is the only way to maintain a garden.

I collect most of the water that comes off the roof of the house. Two large tanks under the deck collect the water, and I can gravity feed it to a third tank located behind the garden. In winter, I leave a couple of feet of air space at the top of each tank to prevent frost damage. In spring, once serious freeze-ups are unlikely, I top up the tanks all the way.

I have buried distribution pipes in the garden, fed from the storage tanks by a solar-powered electric pump. There is a spigot near each bed, so I don't have to drag garden hose all over the place.

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