Water Harvesting Basics

If you’re looking for strategies to further reduce your personal water use, you may begin to consider water harvesting. Water harvesting is the capture and storage of rainfall to either irrigate plants or to use for personal or animal-related needs. This is a popular gardening method, but environmentally conscious individuals have begun to utilize it for personal use.

Water harvesting can save individuals money on water bills while reducing dependence on tapwater. Well-designed water harvesting systems may also decrease your irrigation needs. All you need for an at-home water harvesting system is rain and a place to store it. The simplest water harvesting gardening systems are created by contouring and shaping land areas so that water will flor directly into vegetation.

If you plan to use your harvested water for home and personal activities, you will need a catchment—any large surface, such as a roof, patio, or driveway, which can capture and/or carry water to where it can be used or stored. Rain gutters or pipes can direct flow into containers, which you can then store as an alternative watering source during sparse rain periods. If planned strategically, harvested water can be treated at home and stored for drinking, cleaning, or hygienic uses.

A site and/or system plan is very helpful for building your harvesting system. This plan should identify all surfaces and catchments that can be used to capture and carry water. However, it is important to remember that a stored water surplus will become impractical is it must be stored for more than several months. Water stored for longer periods of time will stagnate and become a health hazard. IT is best to use water as quickly after collection as possible. If you grow to depend on harvested water, consider installing a personal cistern on your property.