Collect Rain Water and Use It!
Rain water is a free resource, and it is cleaner than most tap water. It can be used on your lawn, garden, and even in your house. There are a number of methods to collect water from your roof. If you don’t have a roof, you can build one. If you rent, you can make a temporary structure you can take with you.
The most common method of rain water collection in the U.S. is diverting your downspout into a rain barrel or cistern.
Rain cisterns vary in appearance and function. Sitting water exposed to sunlight will grow algae – which some people find beneficial (if you are watering your garden), and others wish to keep out (if you are drinking the water). Opaque containers that block light will keep algae from growing.
Some people store water above ground, while others bury their cistern, and some use the ground to collect their water (aka ponds and lakes). Above-ground cisterns are easier to install, but are exposed to the elements – thus your water will get hot in the sun, freeze in the winter, receive damage in storms, etc. Below-ground cistern are protected.
If you do not have a roof for water collection, you can build one in a day. Any simple shelter with a slanted roof can act as rain collector. In Columbus, OH, average annual rainfall is about 39 inches. Click here to see month-by-month averages: http://average-rainfall.findthebest.com/l/189/Columbus-Ohio. To calculate the size of roof you want to build, or size of cistern to collect water, use this formula: Gallons of rain = ½ x inches of rain x square foot area.
Here is an example of an 8×8 foot structure:
If you don’t own property, you probably want a temporary rain roof that you can take with you if you move. Temporary tarp roofs can be stuck in place to collect water.
Warning: Any sitting water exposed to air will collect mosquito larvae, and over time can spawn harmful bacteria. You can add fish to your cistern to eat the larvae. If you are using the water for your garden, they will be happy to have the fish waste as nutrient. Bacteria that collects in sitting water is not harmful to plants or lawns, and will not harm people who eat the plants. If you want to use rain water for drinking and cooking, you should either treat the water or filter it.
To read more on methods of rain water harvesting, including making your own filter, click here: http://theconstructor.org/water-resources/methods-of-rainwater-harvesting/5420/