As the population has increased, the strain on water demand has also increased. Water rates for those on municipal water have increased and in times of drought many areas have put restrictions and limitations on water uses like car washing. The collection of rain water for home use has a variety of benefits and uses for homeowners both in urban and rural settings. These uses and the extent of these uses can vary depending on both a homeowners planning and municipal regulations.
Uses for Collected Rainwater
One of the most common uses for rainwater collection is plant, lawn, and garden watering during drier periods. Collecting water for plant irrigation has become very popular today and rain barrels of all different shapes and sizes can be purchased through a number of stores and websites.
Another use for the collection of rain water is its use in tandem with a solar water heater for showers and other gray water uses like dish washing and in some cases cloth washing. While, this use is much more common in rural and camp-like situations it has become popular with those who are ‘living off the land’. Finally, in some cases people use collected rainwater in conjunction with their potable drinking water. This water, which is generally filtered before use, is also used for gray water applications as well.
Benefits of Using Rainwater
The primary benefit to collecting rainwater is the reduction of water use from groundwater or municipal water sources. For example, saving this water for irrigation maintains plant health during drier periods while reducing the use of tap water. For those with well water, the benefit comes in the form of lowered electricity bills from a decreased use in the well pump and in extreme periods of drought, rainwater (if saved for such an occasion) can ease the stress of the groundwater aquifer that the well is drawing from. For those using municipal water sources the benefit comes from lowered water expenses, which may be significant depending on rates.
Check with municipal regulation to see to what extent collected rainwater can be used. In some places only irrigation use may be legal. If you are considering expanding your use to other applications consider filtration and doing a basic chemical analysis for things like pH and water hardness (the concentration of compounds like calcium and magnesium carbonate). Typical rainwater is mildly acidic and hard which may affect plant growth and, if being used for dishwashing, leave spots on dishes.