Rainwater Harvesting

Raindrop on a nasturtium leaf

🌧 Yes, it’s legal in Oregon. 🥳

Rather than allowing storm-water to runoff your property and carry pollution and garbage into your watershed, lets look at some ways to capture this free resource for use in our homes and gardens.

Store Rainwater for use in your Home

Oregon Rain Harvesting is a company that can design and install a collection system that can be plumbed into your house and used for your garden as well. This creates a system that recharges for free every time it rains.

Raingardens & Swales

These elements are usually designed to catch and infiltrate water that runs off hard-scapes, like roofs and paved surfaces. Water that is captured is cleansed by plants and the infiltration process and recharges local aquifers. Rain gardens can also be a beautiful addition to your landscape that benefits pollinators and other beneficial insects. Win-win-win-win-win!

Rain Barrels:

This is a great way to introduce yourself to water harvesting. A standard 50 gallon barrel will fill in minutes during a heavy rain event. However, there are many creative ways to get more out of it.

  1. You can daisy-chain two or more barrels to overflow into each other to increase storage capacity.
  2. Rain barrel overflow can be directed to a conveyance trench that feeds a thirsty garden area or rain garden.
  3. A day or two before rain is predicted drain your barrel(s) to give thirsty plants and drink. Then hook up a hose that can be directed to areas that need a deep watering and use it as a pass-thru. Then as the rain tapers off remove the hose and let your barrel(s) recharge.
  4. Rain barrels and cisterns are also useful as thermal regulators for nearby plants or pots. I also use rain barrel water for seedlings and transplants, because it is usually warmer than the water from our hose at that time of year.

When planning your rain garden, swales, and infiltration trenches keep these three rules in mind.

  1. Keep your rain garden at least 10 feet and down-slope from building foundations.
  2. Plan for overflow. This will ensure the water has an appropriate path or drain during extreme rain events.
  3. Rain gardens should infiltrate within 24 hours of the rain stopping.

What We are Doing at SBG

Our roof collects about 45 thousand gallons of rainwater per year. Our home footprint is 40’ x 48’ and we get about 38” of rain per year. Try this calculator. 

Every March to November, we disconnect two of our gutters. One feeds a conveyance trench to our blueberry patch. The other fills a 50 gallon rain barrel.  During summer rain events, I hook up a hose to the rain barrel and direct the overflow to areas that are in need of a deep watering. We reconnect our gutters November – February. It’s a great step, but we have lots of room for improvement here. 

My Permaculture Dream:

I would love a 3-6 thousand gallon water collection system that is plumbed into our house for drinking water (there are special systems for cleaning and mineral addition ) and for wash water. When the system gets low it would automatically switch to the municipal system. Add to that a grey water processing landscape during the summer dry season! I also want solar panels and battery storage to support our electric cars, appliances, and battery powered equipment. May as well add a goat and a few chickens in to the mix. Ah to dream!

For More Information and How To Guides:

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