>> The photo shown here ^^^ isn’t the completed gizmo but it shows the gist of how it will work<<
I’ve lived in the west for over half my life. I have never understood why, in a place where droughts can cause water restrictions, that they didn’t allow for rainwater catchment. In fact, it has been illegal. I understand that it comes from the complexities of historical water rights (first in time, first in right), but most here would agree with me as to just how ridiculous this is – especially when the real spike in urban/suburban water use goes up in the summer so lawns can be watered.
Recently, the laws changed for the better. From what I read, if you are on a municipal system (we are not) it is now legal to trap up to 2, 55 gallon rain barrels of rain and snow as long as it is used externally. If you are on a well or off the grid from a water stand point, the amount you can use indoors and out is now unlimited as long as it comes off of a roof (I think an outdoor solar shower would be awesome!).
Yours truly, Mr. Farmer Jon, jumped at the chance. Today, after putting it off for other projects this summer, I finally got down to making the first flush system for our water catchment system. The roof is 1680 square feet. According to the calculator, 1 inch of rain will provide 1297 gallons of water. That would fill the tank shown above to over-flow by 297 gallons. Through the magic of PVC I will be daisy chaining other tanks into the system as we go.
There are a number of reasons why we want to do this. 1. We live in a semi-arid climate that only gets 13.5 inches of rain a year (snow increases this, but not by much). 2. We are on a well that is down into an aquifer. If you know anything about aquifer depletion, the news isn’t all that rosy. 3. The well is 265 feet deep so manual pumps won’t work. If the electric pump fails, having water stored above ground until the pump can be fixed is just prudent (Our solar system protects against the grid going down, but not if the pump fails). 4. The water here is VERY alkaline. Rainwater is not. I have a pressure tank and pump that will provide enough pressure to water the gardens and not salinate them.
The only issue is winter. Water freezes in winter. As a result, we will be putting a 500 gallon storage tank in our basement to hold water through the winter. It will be our weakest time of year, but unless I can figure out how to keep the big tanks warm when it’s 12 degrees outside, there isn’t much choice. An underground cistern would be ideal, but contrary to popular and familial belief, we are not among the 1%.
I should have it all plumbed, painted and functional tomorrow. I can’t wait to see this thing work….. of course, now that it is in, we won’t have any rain.
So here’s how it works: There is a rubber racket ball in the wider, longer tube. When it rains, the first water that comes off the roof will be dusty and bird pooped. As that water washes down, the first water goes into the tube. The racket ball rises as the tube fills. Once it gets up to the reducer, it plugs it and the the fresher water will divert over to the green tank and fill it. At the bottom of the first flush is a screw-in drain cover. That allows the dirty water to be drained out so as to set it up for the next rainfall. It might not be big enough, but there will be another one just like it on the other side of the barn. We will be able to trap thousands of gallons of water, even in our dry climate…. Brilliant!