Rainwater Harvesting

What is Rainwater Harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater and storing it for later use. Storage methods can range from small barrels to large underground storage tanks.

The simplest way to start rainwater harvesting is to install a rain barrel next to a building that has downspouts collecting roof water. More elaborate rainwater storage systems can be installed underground in the interior of a structure connecting a building’s water system. It is even possible for these larger systems to meet all non-potable and separate water uses, such as toilet flushing and laundry.

Why Use Rainwater?

Rainwater is a valuable resource that is underutilized in our communities. In the past, many homes were designed to have cisterns to capture and utilize rainfall for household purposes.

Today, our rooftops and yards are designed to shed rainwater runoff into the street, down the storm drain, and into streams, rather than absorbing or infiltrating it. This stormwater runoff picks up pollutants and negatively impacts water quality of our surface waters.runoff illustration

By harvesting our rainwater we help reduce stormwater runoff which helps decrease the amount of pollutants that run into our streams and lakes and conserve drinking water. We commonly use drinking water for our lawns and gardens during the growing season when we could be using rainwater.

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are one of the simplest conservation practices you can use to help protect Easter Lake or any neighboring stream, river, or lake. They are easy to build and install and provide many benefits to you while helping to protect water quality.

Rain barrels are placed in locations that can easily catch water such as at the end of a downspout. Using downspout adaptors or flexible elbows, rain barrels are placed at the end of downspouts that are directed to the top of the rain barrel. Rain barrels will fill quickly and will require an overflow drain for excess water. The overflow drain can be a garden hose or outlet pipe pointed away from the house or connected to another barrel to increase storage capacity.

Did you know it only takes 60 square feet of rooftop to fill a 50 gallon rain barrel during a 1 inch rain fall event?

As part of the Easter Lake Watershed Project we encourage you to use rain barrels. We invite you to join us at one of our upcoming Rain Barrel Workshops or to take advantage of our $100.00 rain barrel rebate. Contact the Easter Lake Watershed Coordinator for more information.

barrel graphic

Additional Resources

For more information on  rainwater harvesting and other Rainscaping practices check out Rainscaping Iowa’s website

Learn to build your own barrel using these instructions.

Rainwater Harvesting Brochure