Behind my house were two vacant lots overlooking a bluff. They were
heavily wooded. Last year they cleared the lots to build, and the wind
and cold was noticeable. (The houses are built now, and privacy fences
have gone up, so it won't be quite as cold this winter.)
I divert all the house rain gutters to rain barrels for garden water
and it keeps the electric bill down (we have an electric pump to a
private well). Just 3/4 inches of rain can fill each of 3 40-gallon
trash barrels. The water isn't pretty so it only goes to the garden
and peach tree. Any excess runs over the barrel and into irrigation
ditches which I dug into the garden. Last year we had a drought,
about one small thunderstorm every 3 to 4 weeks...so every drop
The rain barrels are covered with a 1/2" thick wood plate, with a
8"dia hole drilled in the center. The hole is covered with two layers
of window-screening to keep out mosquitos, then covered with a single
1/2" hardware cloth to keep mice from chewing out the screening. It
has worked extremely well the past 6 months in keeping pests out of
the water, although in once occurrence I left the barrel open for 5
minutes and a mouse got in.
I'll be redirecting our downspouts here soon as well. The house has a
typical pitched roof as well as a small roof on an add-on (only a couple
hundred square feet). From what I've read, the typical home can capture
enough rainfall on the roof to account from a large chunk of the typical
water usage a 2 or 3 family needs in a year. Some interesting numbers. I'm
also looking into water purification systems -- would be nice to grab the
runoff from the roof and bring it into the house for things like laundry,
toilets, showers, and so forth.
The next large project we are going to do is have a cistern installed with a
filter system. That way, no water from the city need be used. I don't drink it
now. What the hell is chloramine? Anyway, in Texas where we live, we have an
average yearly rainfall of 31 inches. It's enough to fill a ten thousand gallon
cistern many times. As little as a quarter inch of water can fill all of my
current 75 gallon rain barrels. The City of Austin sells them for 45 dollars.
They are the ones in the Gardeners Supply Catalog which otherwise cost 130
dollars each. Maybe even a bit more.
I originally wanted to dig a well -- my basement is forever flooding from
the ever rising water table so I figured why not? Well, the City is why
not -- if city water is available one cannot dig a well. This redirected my
interests to rainwater.
I already run a water filter on my tap water before drinking or cooking. I
wonder how much more costly it would be to filter rainwater instead.
Just out of curiousity (and an interest in land use rights) I'm curious if
you could point me towards a website or citation that states that one may
not drill a well on one's property in your city..... thanks,
<Sigh> You WOULD ask -- I don't have the actual cite here. A fellow down
at city hall was good enough to send me a copy of the chapter of municipal
code but the cite was incomplete. The verbage was fairly straightforward --
it stated the guidelines for having a well or a cistern, how it was to be
maintained and who governed it (health department) then followed up with....
"(H) When water from the municipal system becomes available to any
dwelling, the owner shall provide water from that system and immediately
abandon the private supply."
Under this chapter I likely cannot even create a large receptacle for
capturing rainwater for use in anything but gardening/agriculture and even
then there are further regulations. I'm still going to find a way to use it
for laundry and toilets and such (call me a rebel).
A local energy consultant and I have been corresponding and he's made it
clear in no uncertain terms that Cincinnati's government is not conservation
Our county (Harris, Houston) has a subsidence district that all well
permits go through. We paying for all the evil deeds we did pulling out
well water in the past years. Leave it in the ground and recycle your
roof water. Work with nature and not against by depleting the well/water
David J Bockman wrote:
J. Kolenovsky, A+, Network +, MCP
=F4=BF=F4 - http://www.celestialhabitats.com - business
Actually, we will be putting in a sump pump in the near future in an effort
to at least BEGIN to control the water in the basement. We're also looking
at apply a type of rubber (SaniTred) to the walls to help there. At the
moment, it's pretty damp, musty, and humid down there -- t'ain't healthy.
I don't know specific prices for each element, but to have a ten thousand gallon
cistern buried or placed on the property, with the plumbing for house water,
filtration so it's potable, we're looking at around $5,000.00 to $7,000.00.
To filter it, you'd have to call some of the people in your area to find out
how to do that. I don't want well water. There are any number of toxins in it
at any given time. At least with rainwater, it comes from the sky, over the
roof and into the system. Filtering out the sediment from the roof is far
easier than filtering the 70+ toxins found in tap water, on any given day.
There are soluble contaminants in rainwater also, which don't just
filter out. The contaminants depend on which way the wind is blowing,
what industries are upwind from you, and the time of year and business
climate for those industries. You may have to treat the water somehow.
Before you spend any significant money, collect some water from the roof
over a long period of time and have it tested.
One more thing to think about:
On a home show once, they were showing someone soldering together roof
gutters. They said they used a high concentration of lead which is not
allowed in indoor plumbing but is okay for water drainage. Of course,
if you're planning on drinking water that has come through your roof
gutters, this could be a problem. You might want to call whoever
installed your gutters and ask them if they soldered the pieces
together, and if so, if the soldering material had more lead in it
than allowed for internal water piping.
I wouldn't worry about the code so much in this case as your own
health. This is one area where I would want the code to be even more
Do you have a breakdown of what the levels of nitrates, nitrites,
organophosphate, herbicides, pathogens, and other toxic elements found in city
water? If not, to say you have pretty good quality water is not adequate
enough for me. Our water has more chlorine, now chloramine than our swimming
pool. I don't allow my bird to drink it...let alone us.
That said, I live in Austin, Texas, where the Edwards Aquifer is our most
precious commodity. The city of Austin sells rainwater collection barrels from
the Smith and Hawken supplier at a fraction of the cost. They actually lose 35
dollars on each one they sell because of the kick back they get from the water
I don't know where you live or how many inches of water rains down on you, but
in our region it ranges. We have long periods of drought, then it can pour 5
inches in an hour. Much of it is runoff. When I hear rain is on the way, I
water the garden to get the top inch moist so it doesn't shed the water, and
breaks the tension of the soil to allow water to permeate it.
If it were my city who discouraged rainwater collection, I'd become very active
at Town Council meetings and would contact my representative on the board. That
The breakdown on contaminants in the water supply here in Cincy can be found
at http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/pages/-296-/ under the Miller treatment
plant. We have 3 different water sources but Miller services our area.
FWIW, the water utility has a very informative web site.
I'm in Cincinnati. Rainfall varies here but it averages around 40 inches
per year. This spring/summer has been particularly odd -- we've gone a
period with no rain at all then suddenly we get doused (talk about deep
watering). It's been bad enough that I've actually seen the street in front
of my house flood to about 8 inches -- on no less than THREE occasions.
I've lived here for about 30 years and this year is the first and only time
I have ever seen this phenomenon.
Yup. I'm planning on doing some follow-up to get a better picture of where
the city's code is on this one. I disagree with the section on digging a
well but I at least understand the reasoning. However when it comes to a
cistern...well, that's nobody's business but my own -- plain and simple.
By way of follow up -- I got a response back from the city today on the
legality of cisterns:
"I would contact the Health Department to confirm that. Personally, a
cistern would be my last choice for a water source. The contaminants that
can potentially be picked up by rain water through the air (particularly in
Southwest Ohio where the air quality is not all that great)as well as what
could be picked up off the roof, etc., you could likely end up with a water
which is not all that healthy, particularly if you do not treat it is some
manner. A cistern also leaves you vulnerable to drought, in which case you
would pay a premium to have water hauled by truck to fill your cistern. That
is just my personal opinion though."
On to the health department next.
It seems like the city's stance is that water supply is an all or nothing
affair. Either you're misinterpreting things when it relates to
alternative sources for garden water (as opposed to "house water"), or
(more likely) the city is unequipped to deal with water supplies not
governed by themselves.
Maybe along with IPM there needs to be "Integrated Water Supply".
Before you do, you might call the city and try and find out *why*
these restrictions are in place. I'm not saying you can find the
answer, nor that they will be reasonable if you do, but there's a
chance it'll make some sense. Also a (slim) possibility you might
reach someone who has suggestions for your wet basement problem.
I understand the reasoning on the wells -- they claim to be protecting the
ground water from contamination. A bit weak IMHO but at least
understandable. As for a cistern being prohibited, I've been told to
contact the health department.
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