From Well Water to Rainwater: Page 3 of 3

A Whole-House Water System
Beginner

Inside this Article

Nancy Poage-Nixon with her storage tank.
Nancy Poage-Nixon’s 5,000-gallon rainwater storage tank provides potable water throughout the year.
Metal roof collection surface.
The home’s metal roof was a convenient potable rainwater collection surface. Other materials are less desirable.
Metal gutter screens.
The first line of defense against contamination is to prevent debris from entering the system. One strategy (shown here) is to place a metal or plastic screen over the gutter. (Note that the asphalt shingles on this roof signifys nonpotable water systems.)
Permeable foam gutter inserts.
The first line of defense against contamination is to prevent debris from entering the system. Another strategy (shown here) uses permeable foam inserted into the gutter. (Note that the asphalt shingles on this roof signifys nonpotable water systems.)
A rainhead is the second typical line of defense.
A rainhead is the second typical line of defense against contamination. For this home, the roof height and lack of surrounding vegetation make this component optional.
A first-flush system is the third line of defense.
A first-flush system is the third line of defense, discarding the first wash of a new rain, including small particles and water-soluble contaminants.
Screened Floating Intake
The intake screen in this primary tank floats just below the surface, avoiding both “floaters” at the top and sediment at the bottom.
A float switch in the secondary tank.
A float switch in the secondary tank controls the pump that draws from the primary tank.
The 1,200-gallon secondary tank.
The 1,200-gallon secondary tank served as the original water storage. Now, it provides additional capacity and a place for incoming water to cool in the shade before entering the house.
A Grundfos pressure-booster pump.
A Grundfos pressure-booster pump (bottom) provides the house’s water pressure through a two-stage filter and ozone purification system (top).
Nancy Poage-Nixon with her storage tank.
Metal roof collection surface.
Metal gutter screens.
Permeable foam gutter inserts.
A rainhead is the second typical line of defense.
A first-flush system is the third line of defense.
Screened Floating Intake
A float switch in the secondary tank.
The 1,200-gallon secondary tank.
A Grundfos pressure-booster pump.

Reacting to the Drought

Although Nancy hasn’t increased her potable rainwater storage, she has added two 250-gallon tanks for use in landscaping. She also switched from grass that dies in drought to purple prairie clover for her small yard. This perennial native is drought-tolerant once established, with a deep root system capable of subsisting off erratic rainfalls and septic system discharge. As others fret over their wells running dry, Nancy can relax, knowing she has a more steady supply of water, and that she is helping recharge the diminishing aquifer.

Access

Stephen Hren is a writer and builder living in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of Tales from the Sustainable Underground: A Wild Journey with People Who Care More About the Planet than the Law. Find out more at www.earthonaut.net.

Further Reading:

Catching the Cloudburst” by Heather Kinkade in HP125

“Free Rain: High-Tech, Hands-Off Rainwater Collection” by Doug Pushard in HP115

“Harvesting Rainwater” by Michael Durland in HP107

The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting • twdb.state.tx.us/innovativewater/rainwater/docs.asp • Must-read publication 

Comments (1)

Rajendra Kumar's picture

Thank you for a very enjoyable read. I would like to see more DIY articles of this type and also solar distilling.

Regards
Raj (India)

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