I know its winter. But being retired and with idle thoughts I am
looking at my neighbor's rain barrel that during the summer collects
rain runoff from his roof to water his plants. Our houses in the
development have basements with sump pumps. My own sump pump goes off
more regularly than it rains around here in the summer. Since the sump
collects clean ground water, is it okay to divert that water to a rain
barrel? Seems a better idea than dumping and wasting that water into
the storm sewers.
My first thought was "damned good idea" because we, too plan save rain
water for watering starting this spring.
My second thought was about the amount of insecticide we had sprayed
under and around the basement foundation before the poured the floors
and back-filled (termite treatment) a couple of years ago. Not sure I
would want to touch that water until it has had a few more years to
dilute the chemicals.
Where I live it is illegal to drain a sump pump into the sewer system;
it *must* be discharged somewhere on the property. So yes, people do
pump it out onto their lawns or gardens. For that matter, people with
lakeshore property frequently water with water pumped from the lake,
and that's for sure going to have more collected runoff in it than
whatever you collect just from your property.
As long as you have regular sewers for your house, and not a septic
tank, that water should be ok. Where we have septic tanks and wells
in the rural areas around here, the well is usually in the front yard
and the septic system is in the back yard. I guess the assumption is
that the septic system water goes straight down from the drain field
and does not migrate sideways under the house foundation and get into
Some of the replies raised the possiblities of contamination in
reusing the ground water from the sump well. If there are any oils or
fluids from leaks in cars parked in the driveway, they will be washed
away from the foundation of the house. I suspect that most of the
water in the sump during our dry summers was from water that
percolated down to the drain tiles from watering plants near the
house. So reusing that water to water those plants again, or the lawn,
However it does raise a point. How contaiminate free is rain water
that has washed off roofs. I have cedar shingles. Don't they treat
them with fire retardants? I suppose rain water might be fine for
plants or lawns, but if you have a vegetable garden use virgin water
and not rain water or ground water.
well theres natural bacteria that eats motor oil, and worn tires too.
which is why the road berms dont have piles of tire dust along them.
so a litte oil or transmission fluid might not really matter, although
probably not a good idea to water vegies with contaminated water
I wash the outsides but I tend to have trouble getting the water out
of the *inside* of the vegetables.
There are interweb references that state the plants can absorb up to
7% of the lead in contaminated soil.
While the following site is speaking specifically about E .coli, I can
see reasons to follow the same precautions for any type of
"It is important to prevent direct contact of potentially contaminated
water with the fruits or vegetables you plan to harvest. The type of
plant affects how you water. If the edible portion of the crop is
located above the soil, it is better to water with a drip system or a
furrow or flood system than with sprinklers. This will limit direct
contact between the water and the crop. If you have a limited drinking
water supply, save the best water for the period just prior to
harvest. Avoid using potentially contaminated water within 30 days of
With the first rain, 95% of whatever that is ever coming off, er, comes off.
After that first rain, any amount of fire retardant or chemical preservative
that washes off will be so small as to be undetectable.
During the interval between rains, however, an amazing amount of airborne
junk will settle on the roof - mostly in the form of dust (and a few bird
droppings). Again, after the first few gallons of the next rain, subsequent
water should be almost as pure as if it had been distilled.
I am always amazed every fall when I clean the gutters. There will
always be at least a 1/4" of "mud" in the bottom of them. That all
comes out of the sky. In the olden times there was a diverter that
was used to bypass the rain barrel during the start of a rain storm to
get rid of the "dirty" water.
Yep. You don't see a ribbon of rubber dust alongside the road.
Applying the theory that "everything has to be somewhere," if the rubber
dust is not on the side of the road, it's got to be somewhere else.
Don't know about where you are, but MOST of the black crap in my eaves
troughs is composted vegetation - leaves and such that come off the
nearby trees. The rest of what is in the trough is the loose grit from
the shingles - but that's not black.
Ah, but you may live in a hideaway, back in the forest, at the dead end of a
Those of us in urban settings have to confront all manner of muck.
In fact the Vatican (and the city of Rome) have roaming pressure-washer
crews (pardon the pun) that blow the caked-on mung from precious works of
Imagine the victory statue of Marcus Aurelius, astride his mighty steed,
celebrating his victory over the Gauls.
Now imagine the largest flock of pigeons possible...
On 1/5/2011 4:04 PM, hr(bob) firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
There are often, if not mostly, 2 very different types of sewers to
consider. Most any city, town,... prohibits groundwater from a sump
pump to be discharged into a sanitary sewer (that's the one that is
anything BUT sanitary). All the extra water stresses the septic plants
that treat the water and in heavy rains can cause it to release
untreated septic (toilet) water straight into creeks, lakes, rivers...
Then there are the "storm sewers". They just take rainwater downhill to
get it out of the way. Quite often they drain into creeks and lakes, no
problem. Many areas allow sump discharge in the storm sewer.
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