Installing a Rain Water Collection Tank

I brought my 1,000 liters (264 gallons) water tank with me from the old place thinking I would set it up again to collect water for the kitchen garden from a roof top. Fortunately a nice big roof is available here with rain gutter:

The ground has a heavy slope which means that the water tank is standing on the ground about half a meter (1.6 ft) below the floor of the carport.

I found out that I had a bit of cleaning to do of the gutter which had been neglected by the previous renters. It simply won’t work with all that organic material stuck in the gutter:

I managed to unhook the gutter to ease access:

And found this – the gutter was absolutely stuffed:

But I don’t mind – it’s actually very good material for composting, and almost entirely decomposed. I’m wondering how long it’s been in there ๐Ÿ˜‰ A couple of years maybe?:

Yummy! The worms in the compost pile are going to love it (along with the kitchen scraps, tomatoes, cucumbers, kitchen paper rolls and what not):

I gave the rain gutter a thorough hosing to clean it up as I don’t want too much crap in my water tank:

And now on to the clever part of this project: A water โ€œthiefโ€ (I don’t know the English word for this baby ๐Ÿ˜‰ ):

This is a device you insert somewhere in the rain water drain pipe which will divert the water flow away from the main pipe and into a tank or whatever.

And this is an illustration showing what’s on the inside:

Only when the small pipe on the right side is full of water it will start to pour over the edge on the inside and down into the main pipe. Until then most of the water goes into the small pipe, but of course a small part of it will fall into the opening in the middle, but I don’t think it will be anything significant.

This next picture is showing the piece inserted in the main pipe:

Because of the sloping ground the small diverting pipe needs to be 4 m (13 ft) which makes the whole thing look like something from a cartoon ;-):

but hey – it worksยฎ!:

I’m ready for the rain.

6 comments on “Installing a Rain Water Collection Tank

  1. -

    @Mike: Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by – nice pictures ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve read that bacteria will thrive in rainwater tanks when the water is standing still on a hot afternoon, due to bird droppings ending up in the tank. Any thoughts on that?

    By the way, did you manage to attract any wild bees? I’m looking for good construction plans so that I can provide a home for bumble bees this year.

  2. -

    I suppose that it’s possible but harvesting rainwater for human consumption often occurs in the tropics. Unless you have birds roosting on your roof, I would think that the concentration would be very small. Our tanks are starting to be a bit shaded because my wife wanted them hidden so we planted cedars around them.

    Yes, we did attract wild bees. Not many but enough to encourage us to try again.

  3. -

    @Mike: I think the main problem with bacteria in harvested rainwater is that if the water ends up on the leaves of for instance spinach or lettuce, one would have to be really thorough when preparing the vegs for the table, to prevent even a small amount of bacteria from ending up on the dinner plates.
    A system of drip irrigation or soaker hoses would solve this potential problem.
    But at least there are plenty of other vegs where the bacteria would cause no problems, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc., i.e. root crops.
    The trick is to separate the crops but that’s practically impossible – I prefer using powerful sprinklers early in the morning.
    Harvesting rainwater for human consumption is an interesting subject. Actually kinda on-topic for this blog – we ought to take a closer look at this ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not many vitamins or calories in water though… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. -

    Absolutely. I try to avoid getting water on the leaves regardless. I find that young leaves burn these days when they get any kind of water on them. I suppose if bacteria is a huge concern you could always insert a water filter into the line. You’d probably need a series with the early ones catching the larger debris. Maybe there could be some kind of a more natural filtration system. I know that human waste can be filtered through reed beds. And bird poo might not be the only problem up on the roof. Depending on what your roof is made of and it’s condition, you might have other problems. Our roof is asphalt shingle. I have no idea of what leaching into the rainwater might be going on. This is starting to get very complicated. I much prefer simple if the risks seem tolerable to me or if I can’t do anything about the risks. Keeping it simple and as close to nature as possible is the best I can do. Some for me, some for the birds, some for the bugs and slugs.

    But then again I’m finding that I rarely have to water once the plants have reached a size where I can can start to mulch them. I bag my grass clippings and use them to mulch the gardens. The clippings form a dry crust on top but underneath the soil is moist. I think the crust might slow evaporation. Within seconds of being water the dry crust lets the water through so it’s not a water block. I’m a huge fan of this find of mulching. I think that it also helps to keep plant roots cooler. It’s my sense that the sun is increasingly scorching over the past few years. Last year, for the first time, we had to protect our tomato transplants with a row cover for the first week or so. They had been hardened off outside getting some early to mid morning sun for about two weeks. When we transplanted them and they were exposed to full sun all day long, the leaves got burned.

    You really want to drink rainwater???????????????? Bird poo might be the least of your worries, I suspect. There’s a lot of industrial and automotive spewing into the air and it’s cumulative. Getting the water tested might not help too much since water testing looks for problems in the ground not the air. But then again whatever’s in the air ends up in the ground as rain for the veggies to soak up. One way or another, we consume it.

    Water may not have much in the way vitamins or calories but I’m starting to be a believer in the 8-glasses-of-water-a-day idea. In the winter, when I spend a great deal more time at the keyboard, I always have a glass of cold water next to me which rarely gets a chance to get warm. In the summer even though I’m outside and it’s hot, I don’t drink as much water. I find that even though I’m more sedentary in the winter, my bowels are more regular and I feel better. Apparently, water helps soften stools and makes bowels more regular.


  5. -

    @Mike: I posted a link to this video last summer, I don’t know if you saw it already:
    This behavior would definitely impact the quality of our rainwater making it even harder to purify – if it’s real. I would hope it’s just paranoia but I don’t think it is. And then things just got really complicated ๐Ÿ˜‰ So no, I’ll stick to tap water until the last drop.

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