Water Collection

[youtube=http://youtu.be/AOWlRyQk5iY]This video is of our trial run for the new rain catchment system on our shop. The shop structure was originally conceived just for getting more water into our cisterns. But we stalled on the rain collection aspect, because our cisterns have been so full it wasn’t a priority since the legendary September rains, that we seem to be talking a lot about these days.
Snapshot 2 (2-10-2014 4-32 PM)Finally we used enough water from our tanks to make space for collecting more. Ideally we will install another cistern near the shop. But funds are tight right now, so we are making the most of our current infrastructure. The water drains from the shop gutters onto the roof of the main house. Our design distributes the water over a large area of the roof so that it may gently drain. We don’t want to pour it all on in one spot and have our precious clean rainwater overshoot the gutters. From there it goes into the existing gutters and down into the main cistern.
Water is the basic element for all biological life. As we are biological beings, weSnapshot 1 (2-10-2014 4-32 PM) find this fairly important. We love how our main rain collection cistern is right outside our front door. It’s been placed centrally as it is a major priority. Just as one would do well to monitor one’s bank account, we keep close tabs on our water budget. The tank gauge hangs just at the height of the water level inside.
I like to put stickers on the cistern. I write the date and stick it just IMG_4416at the level that the guage is hanging at. Then in a week, or a month, or whenever, I’ll put another sticker up again at the level of that guage. That way I can easily monitor our rate of usage.
I took this photo before this recent snow started melting. I had just put on the lowest sticker. That way I could calculate, by looking at the gallon measurements along the side of the tank, how much we had used in the month between putting stickers on. And I would be able to see how much water we collected from the melting snow.
Here’s the results: In 28 days we used 350 gallons between the three of us who live here now. On average, this is 29 gallons per person per week, or 4 gallons per person per day. Many of you are thinking that’s quite low. Indeed, it’s at least 70 gallons per day less than the average American for indoor domestic water use. How do we do it? We use composting toilets, take short showers, and do laundry in town sometimes.  And we have created our infrastructure to make it easy for us to conserve. But we also keep our food garden thriving in the greenhouse, and we are drinking this rainwater after it’s been filtered. And this is at a time when our cisterns are nearly full, and we are not trying to be extra conserving. This is just all we need to use.
After the snow melted, our gauge reported we had collected nearly 200 gallons! To get water collection equivalent to an inch of rainfall, it needs to snow 10 to 14 inches. That is, if it melts before it blows away. Our new shop roof slants towards the South, which encourages faster melting. Considering we only got 2 to 3 inches of snow, we are feeling quite pleased with our collection for this storm episode. We have increased our collection area, and also sped up the beginning of our snow melt. These are the simple pleasures of celebrating water.
Speaking of budgets, ourIndiegogo Watershed Restoration Campaignis still going!
And visit our friends at Oasisdesign.net.  They are a great online resource for all things water.
Written by Amanda Bramble

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