Rain water collection systems

popedaJune 5, 2012

Many people in the subdivision where we will build have gone with rain water collection systems rather than wells. In most cases they have saved a bit of money doing that.

Do any of you have experience with rain water collection systems for whole house use (drinking, cooking, laundry, dishwasher, baths, etc.)?

We would like to hear others' experiences.

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Thats interesting hddana, please keep us posted. I would think a well is almost always a better, more affordable option up to about 700-800' which is the top range for a normal drill rig and pump setup. Perhaps hitting water is more of a gamble in your area.

As my blog link below states, we were quoted $6K for a system that only supplies hose bibbs, washing machines and toilets. For whole house use you will need a MUCH bigger tank with expensive UV filters that will probably drive the cost of the system to 10-20K. On a trip to the caribbean, I was surprised to learn that most houses rely on these types of systems for their water.

Here is a link that might be useful: Builders blog link, introduction to rainwater harvesting in NC

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 1:20PM
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I'm guessing then that they must have had water trucked in last year when there was no rain for several months straight.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 2:09PM
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I was quoted $14k for a 3000 gallon system and the well was quoted at $7-$8k. This was just for irrigation as I am on city water. Needless to say, I am on city water for irrigation.

This answer is very regional. But tanks are very expensive and very few places have guaranteed rain.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 2:42PM
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It's a common thing in the temperate rainforest of SE Alaska for homes to collect, store, filter and purify water - especially off the road system or along the coastline. As indicated - a system sized for whole house purposes can get very expensive ($15-20K). Think about the rainfall amounts, and the pattern and predictability of rain events in your locale. I couldn't imagine relying on rainwater unless you get large amounts or very regular repetitive rainfall.

Dave - Juneau, AK

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 4:06PM
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We live in central Texas, and rainfall varies from a little to none. People out in our subdivision, though, said only about half with rain collection systems had to buy water. Depends on the size of your tanks. For 3 people they are telling me 20k gallon tank (2 10s). The price is right up there with a well (some have gone 900ft. for water)which is over $20,000, but almost everyone with a well hates their hard hard water,some of it smells bad, and most have had to replace the expensive pump, etc. Rules were changed in past few years to require that one goes through the Edwards aquifer to the next water source, that's why it's so deep. You have to figure in slight increase in roofing to go metal or tile, and of course gutters are essential. I think if we do this it will be for water quality rather than savings. Our city water now has destroyed a shower door, a hot water heater and dishwasher in 5 years without softening. I have had some medical stuff that makes me wary of salt in the softener, but if we were staying here, we would have to get one.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 3:30PM
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We have a well for irrigation only. It was around 10k including the pump. We live in a crazy municipality with super high water rates. My parents are in Atlanta and their water rates are a third of ours - plus we have a tiered system and you are in the top tier with fairly low water usage - household of 5 and watering grass once a week(unlike other areas where the top tier is reserved for very high usage).

Believe it or not, even if we used my current house as a guide we would pay for the well in 2-3 years and with all the new landscaping, larger yard, large trees, etc. it was a no brainer. It doesn't make sense in most places where water rates are reasonable. Here in Athens, though, they are putting in a couple of wells a week for irrigation in the city limits.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 3:44PM
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hddana - We live just north of San Antonio & I understand about the hard water, but I really don't think you can do rainwater only in this area, unless you are a minimalist. If you are concerned about salt what about potassium? We don't notice the salt in our unit. We're just off the Edwards, but still are pulling water from 700+ feet. Water is tasty though.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 9:27PM
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Just to update, we have met with a number of people who put in systems, some of the pioneers of using rainwater for whole house use, and a few people who have even done the system on their own. People do indeed do rainwater for the whole home, but in every case we have encountered, they admit to being conservative in water use.

My DH is going to give it a go as a DYI. We think the worst case scenario is that we might have to get someone to straighten out the filtering setup or in the long term, buy water as some did last year (those with small tanks).

I will keep you posted on how this goes. We just started setting forms this week. First on the water agenda is to have our first metal roof with good, wide gutters.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 5:10PM
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Make sure you actually own the rain that falls.

There are a number of western places that you do NOT own the water.

Just because others are doing it would not alter the legality.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Texas is encouraging this, so far. They are trying to get people out of the aquifer, so many counties offer property tax incentives to do it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 7:00PM
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I had the man that set my septic tank, set an extra 1500gal tank. I plan on tying this into my gutters and using it to water the garden and such. It was $700 for the tank and for him to dig the hole and install.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 3:11PM
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Yes, the system for non-potable water is not nearly as complicated. We are being advised to have a tank that will hold over 15k gallons to provide enough water for 3 people that would get through a long dry spell. We have had some decent rains this spring so most people harvesting rainwater have their tanks almost full, even those with 20k gallons.

We also have the option of connecting our garage roof to the system to provide a bit more water, but we will wait to see if it's necessary.

We have had a private water company where the minimum charge for sewage and water was over $100 a month. To pay a water delivery truck a couple of times in a bad year won't be that onerous.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 9:14PM
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