Rainwater harvesting is an ancient practice, but it’s still one of the most effective ways to conserve water and save money. And, it can be as simple as it sounds.
According to the Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, the definition of rainwater harvesting is “the capture, diversion and storage of rainwater for a number of different purposes.”
The number of different purposes that harvested rainwater can be used for are practically endless, especially for Texans. With Texas being a dryer state, rainwater harvesting systems can supply water during droughts and lessen the demand on municipal systems. Texas’ population is expected to grow more than 88 percent by 2070 and water conservation is one of the main ways that the state plans to prepare for the increase.
According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, many Texas communities use around 30 to 50 percent of their total water consumption for landscape irrigation. Captured rainwater is ideal for landscaping and gardening because it’s typically free of salts, disinfectant by-products, harmful minerals, has no hardness and needs no treatment before use. And with proper treatment, such as ultraviolet light or ozone, rainwater can even be made safe for people to drink.
Rainwater harvesting can also be useful in attracting wildlife by providing a supplemental source of water for wild animals. It can also help ease flooding and erosion—by slowing runoff and allowing it to soak into the ground, collecting rainwater turns stormwater problems into water supply assets. This also helps reduce surface water contamination from sediments, fertilizers, and pesticides in rainfall runoff.
Lastly, rainwater harvesting can save money by significantly reducing your water consumption and therefore lowering your water bill. It can even help you save money on your energy bill, as rainwater harvesting systems are extremely energy efficient and cost very little to run. Even a small, basic rainwater harvesting system can result in cheaper water and energy bills and can increase property values exponentially.
Interested in installing a rainwater harvesting system on your own property? There are plenty of options, depending on how much water you want to collect and how complex of a system you are interested in installing.
Installing a rain barrel on a downspout is a simple, yet effective way to collect rainwater. All that is needed for this system is a roof of a structure, gutters and a piping network and a barrel. You can purchase a rain barrel from a local gardening or hardware store or even create one yourself.
There are also “dry” and “wet” systems that can store larger amounts of water. If you are interested in a more complex system that will meet all your landscaping needs, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Take Care of Texas created a comprehensive guide to help you get started.
There are even financial incentives such as rebates, discounts and tax exemptions for installing rainwater harvesting systems. Your local water provider or city may provide these. You might also check with your county appraisal districts for guidance on exemptions from county property taxes.
In addition to local incentives, the Texas Tax Code exempts rainwater-harvesting equipment from sales tax, and the Texas Property Code prevents HOAs from prohibiting rainwater harvesting systems.
If you decide to build a rainwater harvesting system, it is important to note that they require consistent maintenance to keep them in working order. The storage container should be checked regularly for leaks and gutters should be cleaned to clear away any debris.
For more information about rainwater collection systems, click here.