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Recycling rainwater

Collecting and Using Rainwater at Home

Rainwater harvesting — collecting and storing rain for later use — is an ancient practice.

At its simplest, rainwater harvesting consists the collection of rainwater for garden irrigation although more sophisticated, systems can be incorporated into your home’s plumbing system to provide water for a variety of household needs, from toilet flushing to laundry, and even drinking water (in these instances the rainwater will be treated prior to use).

All rainwater harvesting systems, simple or complex, have the same basic components:

  • A catchment area to capture the rainfall — this is typically the roof of the house.
  • A conveyance system to move the water from the roof to a storage area — eavestroughs and downspouts, and maybe piping.
  • A storage system to hold the rainwater for future use — a barrel, a cistern or a tank.
  • A distribution system to get the water from storage to where it is being used — this can range from a watering can to full integration with the existing plumbing system in the house.

Rainwater harvesting is advantageous for a number of reasons:

  • It can offset the amount of municipally treated water you use in your home — helping to reduce your water bill
  • Larger cisterns can help divert and retain runoff from your property — reducing the impact on local stormwater infrastructure and combined sewer systems
  • Stored rainwater can be used for landscape irrigation even during watering bans and helps to replenish groundwater supplies with water that would normally flow to stormwater system.