Saturday, November 7, 2009

GREEN LIVING: Rainwater Harvesting, Lesson No 1

By Michael Bowater

The first lesson I learnt in rainwater harvesting was one that cost me dearly but as time went by it was one that I benefited from enormously. Rainwater harvesting or the harvesting of rainwater for my garden was a concept that I'd thought about for sometime before I actually went ahead and purchased my first rainwater tank. Looking back now though, I suppose I'm just like most people and didn't really go ahead with it until I really had to ...

During the spring of 2006 we'd just come through another dry winter in Melbourne, Australia. Despite this though, we weren't under any water restrictions so I decided to go ahead and plant a new lawn in my backyard. I'd been holding off for the previous few years as we'd been in drought since 1997. So I went ahead and purchased some turf and before I knew it I had a new lawn complete which a sprinkler system and all the water I needed courtesy of my garden tap.

Now all I had to do was turn on the tap, sit back, relax and just watch the grass grow. How sweet was that? Unfortunately for me about one week after my new lawn was installed my plans came to a very quick and sudden halt. Water restrictions were introduced. This now meant that I could no longer use my garden tap to water my new lawn. I'd just spent several hundred dollars on turf and a sprinkler system and had no water to keep it alive. I had to get some water from somewhere, and fast.

As it turned out though, I did find an alternative, the washing machine. The only problem was the washing machine was quite some distance from the lawn so the only option at the time was to direct the water into some buckets and then just tip it onto the lawn. This worked for a while but it wasn't long before it became quite a chore. I was going to have to find a better way.

The answer was obvious. I had to install a rainwater tank, and before I knew it I was the proud owner of 4,500 litre (1,190 USGal) rainwater tank. I placed it in my backyard, connected it to the nearest downpipe (downspout) and then sat back and waited for it to rain.

Luckily I didn't have to wait for long. A few days later we got some rain. It rained so hard that I could hear the water pouring into my new rainwater tank. I was now happy, it was raining, my tank was filling and my lawn would now be saved.

Little did I know, but after it stopped raining my rainwater tank only had about 200 or 300 litres of water in it. This wasn't going to be enough water to save my lawn. The only solution would be more rain.

Unfortunately though the rain I needed didn't come and my lawn eventually died. This of course left me very disillusioned. I'd just planted a lawn that died, installed a sprinkler system I couldn't use and purchased a rainwater tank that didn't have any water in it.

It's amazing though, how out of adversity most good things come. Something then became very apparent to me which turned out to be my first lesson in Rainwater Harvesting.

If you've got a rainwater tank you really do need to harvest rainwater from as much of your roof as possible. Connecting your rainwater tank to just one downpipe isn't enough.

Today though, I can now harvest rainwater from more of my roof area and direct it to my rainwater tank. When I first installed my tank it would only receive enough rainwater to fill it less than three times throughout the year. Now it will fill with rainwater ten times throughout the year. This has made a huge difference to how much rainwater I can now harvest.

Rainwater harvesting was something that I knew very little about when I installed my first rainwater tank. My lack of knowledge did cost me dearly but these days I do know the importance of harvesting rainwater from as much of your roof as possible. This was my first lesson in rainwater harvesting.

I've been harvesting rainwater for my garden for the last three years and as a consequence have become quite adept in the process of rainwater harvesting.

Article Source:,-Lesson-No-1&id=2936871

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