In my previous article, about water storage, we talked about how much water you should store, how to store it, and why. What we didn’t talk about is what to do when that water eventually runs out.
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So why would anyone want to catch and store rainwater?
First of all, it literally falls from the sky and it’s free. Like free free. If you don’t catch it, it will just go down the storm drain.
Homesteaders in Colorado know that rainwater has value. They are the only place in America where rainwater harvesting is restricted by law. Luckily, this law has been halfway overturned recently and is no longer illegal for everyone, but there are still come limitations. Colorado Homesteaders are restricted to only two barrels, maximum 110 gallons each. Rainwater is still restricted to family dwellings with 3 families or less. The fight is not over for Colorado homesteaders.
Rain barrels are a good way to teach kids about conserving water.
My kids love it because they get free access to water without asking permission. They were always getting in trouble for turning on the backyard water hose and getting the yard soaked and muddy. Now they have 32 gallons and only 32 gallons. They have to be more conservative with their water play. Once it’s gone, no more free-access play water until it rains again. Imagine their faces when they see that it’s raining and remember that their play water barrel is being refilled.
Hopefully, there will never come a time when you will need rainwater. We live in a society where clean drinking water comes straight out of the tap, practically free. We take for granted our clean water. What would you do if one day, the source of that tap water is contaminated?
It’s happened before. December, 2016 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Residents were told not to shower or drink the water after it was contaminated with industrial chemical, Indulin AA86, an asphalt emulsifying agent. Grocery stores quickly ran out of bottled water and the school districts canceled classes. It was fast becoming a crisis situation.
The reasons why water may become contaminated are not as important. What is important is what you will do to keep your family safe no matter what happens. If you’re prepared, you tap into your emergency water, ration it, and make a plan to replenish it.
If you’re not prepared, you can stand in line with the rest of the thirsty people.
With a rain barrel, you can catch rainwater that collects with your rain gutters. You can buy them pre-made, or you can easily (and cheaply) make your own. I love this one that looks like an old wine barrel. We made the one in the top photo with a Brute trash can, some window screen, and a bronze tap to make a faucet.
Of course, if you plan on drinking the rainwater, you must filter and treat the water first. Never drink unfiltered, untreated rainwater. The risks of drinking untreated water are too great. Waterborne diseases like typhoid, E. coli, diarrhea, and intestinal parasites? Uh, no thanks.
Let’s hope you never have to drink rainwater, but if you have no other choice, this is an option.
In the meantime, you can water your garden with it.
To see how to build your own rain barrel, click here.
For more instructions on how to filter and treat rain water for drinking, click here.