Rainwater Harvesting - Rain Collection Systems

rainwater harvesting sign

There are many benefits to investing in a rainwater collection system here in Austin. With the demand for water rising due to population increases and lower water levels in aquifers and reservoirs water conservation could not be more important. With less rain falling in the Austin region and temperatures rising, irrigation consumes 30 to 50% of water consumption in most communities. Texas’s Water Supply Planning process has identified that surface and ground water supplies will not meet are future water demands unless people act responsibly to conserve and collect water that would otherwise be wasted. In theory approximately .62 gallons can be collected per square foot of roof per 1” rainfall.

Rainwater Harvesting can also be utilized as a means to prevent erosion by collecting fast moving water runoff that would erode the landscape. Rainwater harvesting systems should be properly designed and properly installed in order to provide adequate water between rains.

When choosing a rain water harvesting system, it is beneficial to learn how to use the system properly. You'll need to be able to keep up with maintenance the system to keep it efficient by cleaning gutters and filters, or hire a reputable company to perform these jobs for you.

Benefits of Irrigation Via Rain Water Harvesting

Plants love to drink rainwater and thrive when it is supplied to them. Rainwater lacks all the chemicals and salts used by municipalities to make the water safe for human consumption.

Our specialty landscape water conservationist can help choose plants that will consume less water and have longer periods of time between watering, which work well here in the Austin area. A landscape water conservationist can also audit and lower your landscape water usages by adjusting timers to water vegetation without over watering, adding mulch that is mixed to keep soil evaporation from occurring, changing spray patterns on sprinkler heads to only water vegetated areas, installing water conserving sprinkler heads and changing misters to soakers below mulch beds. The best way to ensure stored water lasts till the next rain is to practice outdoor water conservation while having the green luscious beautiful landscape you want.

rainwater tank

Many Home Owners Associations throughout Austin and surrounding areas require yards to be landscaped and be watered to keep the turfgrass green. They assess fines and in some cases use their lawyers to force you to replace all the grass in your yard to keep the neighborhood looking nice.

Most Home Owners Associations are allowing rainwater storage tanks to be placed in backyards to accommodate the landscape watering needs. There are a few options when it comes to storage tanks. There are wood tanks with liners, corrugated galvanized steel tank with liner, concrete square or round with any type of roof material or square or round concrete tanks buried underground, polypropylene for above ground, and reinforced polypropylene tanks which can be buried. Buried tanks provide a storage place out of sight and out of mind.

Rain water storage tanks can also be hidden by large shrubs or trees. Playground areas can be built around tanks and can integrate the water storage tank in the design. Storage tanks can be painted to camouflage into the scenery. There are many options for integrating the storage tank into the landscape design.

New Texas Law Chapter 580 of the Local Government code requires each
municipality and county to encourage and promote rain water harvesting.

Adding a Rain Water Collection System to Your Home

For irrigation purposes there are a few different ways to collect rain water. Most obvious is runoff from your roof, but you can also collect ground water from the concrete drive areas, decks, patios, pool area any non pervious surface. Tanks can be buried or placed on prepared ground surface. In most cases the rain water system can be piped directly to the existing irrigation system.

When collecting rain water from the roof there are preferred catchment surfaces. Galvalume metal roofs or the best for rain water collected for human consumption. Clay/Concrete tile roofs can be utilized for both potable and non potable water systems but will contribute to a 10% loss of water collected due to friction and evaporation. Special sealants and paints are available to increase the efficiency of this type of catchment surface. Composite or asphalt shingles are not recommended for potable water systems due to leaching of chemicals from roofing materials. Shingle roofs are fine for irrigation purposes but will reduce efficiency of catchment surface by 10% due to inefficient flow and evaporation.

rainwater harvesting tank

Gutters and downspouts transfer water from catchment surface through a flush diverter to remove large debris and build up from roof. The gutter system can be piped over to the first tank via aerial if close enough to building or piped down into the ground and over to tank placement. The transfer pipe will connect to all gutters and would flow by gravity to the tank location.

Rain water can also be stored directly below each downspout in a barrel located above ground or below ground. When placed on the ground below the downspout the water can be drained to the landscape by gravity through a hose faucet located at the bottom of the barrel. When barrel is buried below the downspout, a small submersible pump controlled by a switch can be used to drain barrel to landscape.

Ground water catchment would catch run-off from non pervious surfaces, lawn drainage boxes, or French drains and be piped through a limestone filled separator to remove large debris and oils. From the separator the water would flow to the storage tank were it would then be pumped through the irrigation system. The idea is to catch the rain water in areas where it runs off too quickly to be absorbed by the ground, and store the water to be used over a period of time.

If your landscape allows, a pond can be built and all roof drainage and all run-off water can be piped to the pond location. A pump can be installed in the pond to pump water through the irrigation system. With these types of rain water storage practices there will be huge losses due to evaporation and you would not necessarily want to keep aquatic life in the pond. Although the pond storage might be what you ultimately use you rainwater for, add a waterfall and some aquatic life and let the rain keep it full. When the pond system is used most users add a storage container below ground to catch water that would overfill the pond and destroy aquatic life. By doing this you then have water to top off the pond during dry spells and the ability to water the landscape.



A rainwater harvesting system is a valuable investment in your home that you may have a lot of questions about before purchasing. Each property here in the Austin area is unique and we'll be glad to do a site survey, then discuss your rain water harvesting system installation options, and suggest a plan that is both affordable, and meets your needs. Please contact us at any time at (512) 801-7227 with any questions you may have about our wooden fencing, metal fencing and custom deck installation services.

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