Ila Rae was the inspiration for this new conservation measure at our B&B. We have always been serious about water conservation. In N.E. Florida rainfall can be very unreliable especially in the spring. While our lawn has to be in its death throes before we water it, we do water our organic garden and citrus. Using city water for that meant that we were often parsimonious with watering, sometimes to the detriment of our crops. Now with an 1,100 gallon rainwater storage system we are more generous with our watering. Our veggies, citrus and papayas (now 9′ tall) are loving it! Tom had the system partially operative by mid-June and it has provided all of our outside watering since. We can irrigate using gravity flow from the elevated tanks or pressurize the water with the pump from our old shallow well (dry for 20 years). The catchment area of the garage apartment roof is 675 sq. ft. A 1″ rainfall will capture 193 gallons of rainwater. With an average annual rainfall of 52″, we should be able to capture over 10,000 gallons of rainwater/year. The filter system is multi-faceted beginning with gutter guard/screening. The first 5 gallons of captured rainwater end up in our homemade 1st flush automatic discard pipe (4″ pvc pipe). As this pipe fills with water a rubber ball floats up until it hits the bottom of a 4″ x 2″ bushing inside the top of this pipe. This seals off the 4″ pipe and sends rainwater through the horizontal hub of the 2″ T to the 5 gallon red bucket. The top of the bucket has a layer of window screening to catch any leaves, etc. that might have avoided the discard pipe. Under the screen are two layers of blue window a/c filtering material. Every couple weeks we check the bucket top for debris. Once in the bucket, water has to rise about 8″ to enter the 3″ pipe that exits the bucket and leads to the four 275 gallon tanks in the garage below. We invested about $650 in materials for this system. We believe we can recoup that investment in 3-5 years depending on rainfall and planned increases in water/sewage rates. If we had to pay for Tom’s labor, the payback would be much longer. We have always been excited about rain falling on our garden and trees. Now we get even more excited and have been known to head to the garage to watch the water level rise in the tanks during a heavy rainfall. As I close off this entry, we have about 650 gallons stored and rain forecast for tomorrow. While catching rainwater is a good idea, the system can be somewhat pricey depending on how elaborate it is. Installing engineered, low-flow showerheads (2 gpm or less), installing 1.5 gallons/flush toilets and front loading, water and energy efficient washers will typically have better monetary paybacks.
Dances With Rainwater!