Due to the growing scarcity of fresh water, many have turned to rainwater harvesting. Since it is a free resource, it helps reduce our dependence on other water sources and increase water efficiency. Harvesting rainwater could save us tens of thousands of liters of water every day.
Installing water tanks can help store your harvested rainwater. These can also supply water for washing, gardening, and filling up toilet cisterns. Here are some ways to maximize your rainwater containers:
Know your rainwater tank
Rainwater tanks come in different shapes and sizes. They can store up to 5,000 liters of water depending on their size. It is also best to know what your needs are when choosing a rainwater tank. The larger the container, the more rainwater it can store. Here are some examples:
- Metal – these tanks are from a variety of metals, including copper, stainless, or galvanized steel. They are durable and suitable for above or belowground use.
- Fiberglass – it’s more expensive compared to the other water tanks. Fiberglass tanks are resistant to chemical and rust corrosion. They can also tolerate extreme weather temperatures, which makes them suitable for below or above ground installations.
- Polyethylene – polyethylene or poly tanks are UV-resistant and come in a variety of sizes. These tanks are cheaper due to the materials used. Poly tanks are lightweight and easy to transport.
These tanks are manufactured under strict factory conditions to ensure quality. Choose the container to suit your needs.
Install the necessary pipework
After choosing a water tank to store harvested rainwater, install the required pipework. Consult a licensed plumber before buying pipes, filters, or diaphragm pumps online. Also, your plumber knows the state guidelines on rainwater harvesting systems. Some of the pipework include:
- A flow restrictor to ensure the water’s flow rate does not affect your neighbor’s water pressure.
- A first-flush device to prevent pollutants from entering the rainwater tank. It lets any initial rainwater run-off to a bypass the tank.
- Air gaps between the water’s main supply and tank. This protects your potable water from mixing with the harvested rainwater.
- A backflow prevention valve for the water meter to prevent rainwater mixing with regular water. Don’t forget to label tank outlet pipes as “rainwater.”
Any rainwater overflow from your water tanks must be directed to the stormwater drainage system and not to the sewerage system.
Proper maintenance of the rainwater tanks
The key to maximizing your water tanks for rainwater harvesting is proper maintenance. It provides you with a sustainable water resource for your household. Here is a checklist of things to inspect during maintenance:
- Check the pipes and outlets for signs of leaks.
- Roof and gutters must be cleaned regularly. Trim overhead branches that can contaminate your tanks. If you see mosquitoes inside your tank, find the leak and fix it.
- Inspect filters for any signs of wear. Grit and sand can enter the pipes and contaminate the rainwater tanks. Clean the inlet mesh regularly.
- Downpipes and gutters must be free from debris, such as leaf litter, to prevent them from entering the tank.
- Have your rainwater tanks cleaned and serviced every two years. Sediments and sludge can affect the water’s quality.
Regular maintenance of your rainwater tanks ensures a clean, healthy, non-potable water source for years to come.
Harvesting rainwater is not “as simple as putting a bucket under your gutters.” It takes time and commitment to maintain your water tanks and maximize them. This ensures that every raindrop you collect is used sustainably.