Rainwater Collection System

rainwater-collection-system connection-detail

Latest news from the Barbolian back acre: we’ve just installed our first rainwater collection system.

It is hard to believe that water quantity might be an issue in the rainy Pacific Northwest, but here in Sequim, it is becoming contentious as the requirements of wildlife and agriculture clash with the demands of an ever-increasing population. Water, or rather, lack thereof, could well be the most effective growth management tool in our region.

This is hardly the forum to delve deeply into watershed management, the effects of climate change, and balancing the needs of humans and salmon, but residents here recently got a rude awakening when the Department of Ecology notified us of pending water restrictions on new developments.

Fortunately for the Barbolian homestead, we are grandfathered in, having purchased rights to the irrigation ditch along with our home. Being on the ditch is a real advantage; however, every once in awhile, particularly in September when things are getting really dry, without warning, it shuts down. Sometimes completely. Shut-downs are based on river levels; there must be adequate water for the salmon runs.

I agree with that.  So what to do?

We can switch to our well, but at that time of year, our well water is also getting low, and we start finding small grains of sediment in our tap water. Not good.

We’re not talking about watering fancy lawns here. We’re talking about keeping plants alive that we have nurtured since the beginning of spring. We’re talking about food that feeds our families. Let it all dry up right when it’s time to harvest? No way!

A rainwater collection system just makes sense.

We have an advantage: a metal roof on our barn provides a lot of surface area. A phenomenal amount of rain drains off, and other than a little debris, it is relatively clean.

For less than $250, including hardware, we used a simple adapter to connect the downspout from one side of the roof to a 275-gallon storage tank with a spigot near the bottom.  (Ok – so it’s still a little funky – but we are thankful for Ziplock Ties and plumbers’ tape inventions! We will refine the setup as we test the system.) Interestingly enough, our local Co-Op provides the cheapest system around. You can connect a series of 50-gallon barrels, but the 275-gallon system costs a whole lot less. We didn’t find anything close to it online.

We built a foundation for it with some old pumice-block bricks, which elevates it enough to increase the water pressure.

This system is long overdue! It is simple and effective. It may not provide all the water we need, but it will definitely help us through the dry spells.  We want to set up another one for the other side of the roof.

Water is our most valuable resource.  Even with access to the irrigation ditches or other water supplies, if more home owners do what they can both to conserve water and collect their own, more water will be left for other uses.

So – How exciting! Here we’ve been so tired of all this wind and rain and sleet and snow we’ve had lately, and now, we just can’t wait for those heavy clouds to cut loose!


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