Saturday, May 9, 2009

Harvest the Rain

If you want to take your personal contribution to a greener planet more serious (it starts at home), why not consider a rain barrel to help irrigate your garden and shrubbery?

I purchased one about 6 month ago shortly after moving into my new house, and since then I have not had to use my sprinkler system at all (granted, it is the rainy season). I have also seen a reduction in my water bill (see left). The key with rain harvesting is to reduce the amount of runoff water that the city has to process and to reduce consumption of potable water.

I would eventually like to install a drip irrigation system so that I don't manually have to water all of the plants, but for now I manually irrigate via the rain barrel every week or so. Unlike a sprinkler system which sprays water everywhere and is probably set to water too frequently, my watering is targeted so it reduces consumption and also helps with weed control by not watering unnecessary areas.

To help collect the water, I purchased a Garden Water Saver which helped me tap into my rain gutters. Most people put their barrel directly under the rain gutter, but I had to bring the water to the barrel given the configuration of my gutter runoffs and the confined space I have living in the city. You'd be surprised how quick the barrel fills up when it rains! (matter of minutes in a good downpour) I have a small urban space, so only need 1 barrel - but if you have larger property you can daisy chain multiple barrels.

The city of San Francisco has a Rain Barrel Program in which you can purchase a fully equipped rain barrel at a discount ($70 as opposed to $130). The barrel has necessary fixtures so you can attach a standard garden hose, and also comes with overflow equipment to help you keep overflow runoff away from your foundation. It's one per household and available at Cole Hardware. Just bring a copy of your SFPUC water bill.

You can also make your own rain barrel quite easily, but the hose fixtures are more challenging to install AND (most important) you need to procure a barrel for use or used in the food industry. You don't want to be spreading around chemical residue from industrial use barrels.

1 comment:

  1. Great idea! (and nice pic of the new Peace Pole)