Rainwater Harvest: A Hydroponic Future
15 Feb 2012

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There are many reasons to harvest rainwater and use it in various ways for your sustainable existence. Not only can you use harvested rainwater for your non-potable daily water needs (like flushing toilets), but you can also use it outdoors or indoors for food production through irrigation. It is a free source of water, it is low in minerals, contains no chlorine, and is not regulated by municipal monopolies and their water restrictions.

On average, Americans use 70 gallons of water per person daily. Today, over 1.1 billion humans lack attainable freshwater and 2.6 billion are without adequate sanitation. It is estimated that by 2025 the developing world’s demand for water will have increased by 50 percent. What will our supply be looking like around 2025??

The state governments of Colorado, Utah, and Washington State have actually made rainwater harvesting on personal property illegal. It is quite possible that we are seeing the onset of complete federal control of all water usage. If we aren’t aware of these threats to our personal efforts at sustainability, we cannot fight them, and we cannot exercise them when needed. In contrast, many countries in the Caribbean and in South America have been harvesting rainwater for agricultural irrigation for years.

If you do want to exercise your right to collect and use rainwater sustainably, this article is a brief rundown of what you could set up.

Rainwater can be acutely filtered and used as toilet flush water, irrigation water, and water for washing laundry. Using a sediment filter will remove most suspended solids that will cause odor and discoloration to the collection. For bathing, or potable (drinkable) water, a high-intensity ultraviolet sterilizer must be used to kill possible illness-causing anaerobic microorganisms.

Getting started harvesting your own rainwater is pretty simple.

The first piece of equipment usually comes with your house- it’s your roof! The roof is referred to as “the catchment area,” and the conveyance system includes the eaves, trough and gutters of your rooftop. Before setting up under your roof, however, it will need to be determined if any toxic substances have been used in its construction, as these could contaminate the rainwater. If your roof is made of wood, plastic, fiberglass or aluminum, it is safe to use.

Clean cisterns are essential to store the water. Pump(s) are required to move water from the cistern, and a filtration device is necessary to remove dust and pollens. Any of this equipment can be purchased or built with a lil’ dedication.

If your roof is not an option, un-coated stainless steel, galvanized steel, reinforced concrete or baked-enamel finished containers can be used as a catchment basin. Whichever you chose, make sure it says

Your basin should include:

  • A solid secure cover
  • A coarse inlet filter
  • An overflow pipe
  • A manhole, sump, and drain to facilitate cleaning
  • An extraction system that does not contaminate the water; e.g., a tap or pump
  • A soakaway to prevent spilled water from forming puddles near the tank

Additional features might include:

  • A device to indicate the amount of water in the tank
  • A sediment trap, tipping bucket, or other “foul flush” mechanism
  • A lock on the tap
  • A second sub-surface tank to provide water for livestock or agriculture.

Besides household use, hydroponic gardens are the ideal way to begin using your harvested rainwater. Hydroponic plants grow in soil-less systems wherein plant roots are flushed with special nutrient-rich solutions. This solution mix is typically created with various nutrient powders, liquids and tap water. But instead of tap water, harvested rainwater can be used to save money and the need for such dependence on public services. Another great advantage to rainwater is that it does not contain high levels of “hard-minerals” that can cause buildup in the hydroponic systems.

Knowledge of sustainable practices and hydroponics is especially important now because it is possible that, sooner than later, the government will try to take complete control over all water and food supply. If it does, prices will skyrocket, while the knowledge of these skills could be necessary for your survival. In many urban environments, hydroponics may be the only option because of size constraints, and rainwater harvesting could supply these gardens. Or, you may find yourself living on the 92% of the planet where the soil does not easily support plant life. At the very least, knowing that alternatives to government-regulated resources exist can help you band together with other concerned citizens and demand that you be allowed to provide for yourself.

If going all out with basins is not yet your thing, there are simple ways to begin using rainwater at your home. If you want to get your foot (and garden) wet but not spend a lot of money and conserve water, try putting a bucket outside when it rains. You could find a leak in your gutter, or a place under your roof where rain flows in a more concentrated stream (if not applicable, just put it out in the rain, but make sure it has a wide mouth). This water can then be used for days after wards to water your indoor and outdoor plants. We wouldn’t recommend giving the water to your pet, however.

Some green-minded businesses now sell simple rain barrel systems almost anyone could set up under their gutter.

We recommend covering yours in glitter.

You can learn how to make one yourself, or a simple Google search will pull up tons of places to buy them. If you’ve ever wanted to be “more green” all of the above suggestions are a great way to save water and moolah.

Bottom line, this planet’s not going to save itself, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the government is not capable of saving it, OR US. So let’s educate ourselves, create new ways of living in harmony, and SHARE our knowledge and experiences with others! We hope this article inspires you to do just that.


Love and Light,








****^~*^~All information used was from lectures and lecture notes provided by Professor Tony Bertauski of Trident Technical Community College. Used with permission.







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