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Recycle That Rain!

January 14, 2011

For "off-the-grid" homes, sophisticated water catchment systems may be the only alternative.

Rain is nature’s recycling of evaporated water vapor.  In Hawaii, our mountains and watershed forests act to filter rainfall as it percolates through to our ground water reserves.  This provides some of the highest quality drinking water in the world.  You can replicate that system with advanced rain collection systems on your roof, efficient filtration, storage tanks and distribution pumps.  Some of the more exotic systems can be fairly expensive and ultimately deliver high quality drinking water (after reverse osmosis purification).  But, the use of less than purified water is just fine for landscape irrigation, washing your car,  laundry and toilet functions.  These things take up a great portion of you water use, and using high quality potable water for these daily activities is wasteful.  The water catchment systems needed for collecting and using non-drinking water are considerably simpler and less expensive.  It can be as uncomplicated as placing a barrel under your downspout.


information provided by the BWS website:

What is Rain Barrel Water Catchment?
Rain Barrel Water Catchment is an alternative and effective method for conserving water outdoors. Rain barrels are placed outside of the house to collect rainwater – this water can then be used for outdoor purposes, such as watering the garden.

Why should you do it?
The Board of Water Supply (BWS) estimates that fifty percent of water use occurs outdoors.  Because these systems use captured rainwater to irrigate your garden, they reduce the amount of potable (drinking) water used for non-drinking purposes. Research shows that up to 600 gallons of water can be collected from just one inch of rain on a 1000 square foot rooftop – that’s enough water to fill twelve large fish tanks! Not only will the use of potable drinking water be reduced, but also the total amount on your water bill.

Where can I get a 55-gallon barrel?
Many local vendors sell 55-gallon drums as well as fully-constructed rain barrels online.  You may also check with local companies who use 55-gallon barrels for product storage and see if they have them available.  Instead of the traditional 55-gallon barrel, large trash cans may also be used to construct your catchment system.  The BWS does not have barrels available for purchase, except for participants in our rain barrel water catchment workshops (see below).  Each household participant is limited to one barrel in an effort to share the product with as many as we can.

How can you make your own rain barrel?
Constructing your own rain barrel catchment system can be fun and easy!  Click here to check out step-by-step instructions on how you can make your own barrel at home – the supply list includes everyday items that may be obtained at your local hardware store. A list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) is also included in this informational handout.

Also, do you have a plastic barrel you want to convert into a rain barrel but need assistance in drilling and threading the hole?  Well you’re in luck!  Drilling and threading services are being offered to barrel owners by the master gardeners at the Pearl City Urban Garden Center.  Those interested may call 453-6055 to schedule an appointment for Tuesday or Thursday between 9:00am and 10:00am or bring your barrel to their Second Saturday event.  For more information, visit the Garden Center’s website here.

Where would I place my rain barrel and what kind of maintenance is needed?
Effective placement and routine maintenance of you rain barrel is required to keep it running smoothly and at an optimum level. For more information about the optimal area to place your barrel as well as how to properly maintain it, please click here.  Also included is how you can connect multiple rain barrels together to increase water storage capacity.

Where can I go to learn more about catchment systems?
The BWS and the Friends of Halawa Xeriscape Garden offer workshops at the Halawa Xeriscape Garden throughout the year.  These classes discuss important rain barrel construction points, installation, proper maintenance and provide tips on how to easily integrate rain barrels into your gardening lifestyle.  For a nominal fee, workshop attendees are given one fully constructed 53-gallon rain barrel.  However, interested participants must apply quickly as space is extremely limited. The schedule of rain barrel water catchment and other workshops at the Halawa Xeriscape Garden can be found here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. EnviroFusion permalink
    February 3, 2011 12:57 pm

    Very useful information. I catch rainwater for my garden & other use. Really makes sense.

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