How do you to keep rain catchment sanitary?

blueremMay 31, 2004

We've been warned that the water can get really funky if not used often. Has anyone had this experience or know of a way to sanitize the water? Our barrels will not be easely accessed.

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Is this drinking water we are talking about?

    Bookmark   June 1, 2004 at 12:46PM
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We're planning to use if for watering lawn and plants.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2004 at 7:41PM
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My rainbarrel has an unpleasant smell after a week or two of no rain, so I am very interested in this, too. Anybody have info?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 11:59AM
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I haven't noticed any odour from my rain barrel. I've covered the screen on the catchment tray with landscaping cloth -- mostly to prevent mosquitos from procreating (I live in West Nile country). I have found that the landscaping cloth also prevents all the flotsam from the roof from entering and, eventually I guess, decaying in the water. Perhaps this is keeping the odour down?


    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 5:58PM
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The Texas Water Development Board published a great article/brochure about rain water harvesting. It has ALL information you would need to know, INCLUDING detailed instructions on how to sanitize the water. Here is a link!

Here is a link that might be useful: Rain Water Harvesting Brochure

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 10:12AM
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What is your storage tank made of? What is your roof made of? My husband and I use rainwater for everything including drinking water. We have a 2800 gal. collection tank which gravity feeds to a 2800 gal. supply tank. We now live here year round but when we were moving seasonally this water would sit for months on end. Not only did it never smell but it was tested by the National Park Service water people and was found to be incredibly pure and safe! These samples were taken from our kitchen and bathroom faucets. Friends had their collection supply tested (no filters, no treatments at all) and these tests too showed the water to be of amazingly good quality. We use dark green plastic tanks which don't encourage growth of algae, etc. We also have it set up so the first 5 gals. or so from each rain don't go into the collection tank providing a rinse. Metal roofs also minimize what impurities may collect on a roof.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2004 at 2:37PM
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rainwater1--I don't know what the storage tanks are made of but they look like plastic. I think they are probably standard. Three are black and one is blue. I wanted a metal roof but got out-voted so now it's cedar shake. We plan to use water for plants and not drinking water. I've been hearing about recycling water from the dishwasher and the clothers washer for watering as well. Have you heard about this by any chance?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2004 at 11:49AM
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I'm interested, too. We're about to put in a rain barrel and want to make sure our yard doesn't turn stinky!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 9:16PM
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After 3 years using our system (1,000-gallons in 9 containers of various sizes and styles), the only problems we encountered with "stinky" rain barrel water was from the white/opaque containers we installed, but there wasn't any problem using it for yard/garden/plants. What happens in white barrels - algae growth from exposure to light. This can also happen in "open" containers if sunlight can filter into the containers through the opening on the top. Turn-over of the water will also help keep it clean - you need to use from the containers so each rain it's replaced with fresh water.

The first year we went through the algae challenge we put barley bales in the white containers. Barley bails (a burlap "pillow" filled with barley straw) are often used in horse tanks or ponds to control the algae growth, and it worked fairly well. We bought them at a farm supply store. The next year we painted the barrels and eliminated the problem. We purchased a special paint and primer from Sherwin Williams especially for use on plastic containers, in a color that matches our house color. Make sure you scuff the surface of the smooth plastic so the paint sticks better.

Our first container was purchased from a farm supply store (210-gallons). The large container is designed for use in the back of pick-up trucks, but we painted the elliptical-shaped container into a giant lady bug using cans of spray paint made for plastic - so have fun decorating your barrels.

BTW - don't purchase containers you can't easily handle because you need to be able to clean them. Farm supply stores have a good assortment of containers and you can get more bang-for-your-buck if you choose containers larger than the typical 50-gallon containers. We link two (or more) 50-gallon barrels together to be fed from one downspout, where there is a large run of gutter to support multiple barrels. It takes about 1/4-inch of rain to fill a 50-gallon barrel at our house. But it doesn't take very long to empty it....(LOL)

We remove our containers from the concrete blocks they are placed on and power wash them each fall, give them a soda-water bath and a good rinse after we disconnect them for the winter.

Our containers are "closed". This prevents loosing the water through evaporation and helps keep them fairly clean and "wildlife" out.

The link below shows the type of downspout diverter we use in order to have closed containers.

If you are new to rain barrels, don't forget the higher off the ground you place them, the more pressure you will get from gravity feed. If you plan to use soaker hoses for lawn or garden watering, place the containers up above grade on at least one or two coarses of concrete blocks or a platform. If you use a system where there is an overflow hose on the container, make sure it ejects AWAY from your house foundation.

I also have a solar pump I use to feed rain barrel water to the drip irrigation in my vegetable/herb garden and our landscape plants. Saves having to hand-water, although I keep a watering can at every barrel.


Here is a link that might be useful: Gardener's Supply - downspout diverter

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 4:07PM
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I realize this is an old thread, but I just became the proud owner of 6 translucent 275-gallon tanks, and I'm thinking about painting them to minimize algae growth. It sounds like a lot of work. Grainlady, is your paint job holding up? Did you use spray paint? Any idea whether a low-VOC acrylic latex spray paint would work?

Thanks a lot!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 3:13PM
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Hasn't been a problem. Installed a 1,200 gallon underground tank (septic Tank) and use a shallow well pump to pump water out to my five water stations!

We use septic field drop boxes to collect junk! Haven't washed out tank as yet!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 9:07PM
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I have a question:

For free, I got two 55 gallon white/opaque plastic barrels from the local car wash. They used to hold the soap solution. I've cleaned them out a few times, but they still have a lingering scent of soap.

Since I plan on only using them to water plants, will the soap be harmful?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 4:47AM
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I store my barrels (6m3) in the dark cellar. No smell without any treatment.

Here is a link that might be useful: barrels

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 10:57AM
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