In a previous post I talked about going through a very dry spring and watching the level of our dug well drop almost out of sight. We made some changes to our lifestyle. Showers had specific phases. The wet yourself down phase which was about 15 seconds of running water. The lather up phase which didn’t use any water and the rinse off phase which used about thirty seconds of water with my buzz cut, and a little longer for my wife whose hair was shoulder length.
We were getting bulk water from the local water treatment plant for a rate I was willing to pay and we were doing our laundry in town. As a final step we added a trickle tank to our water system and that made things much easier.
The last thing we did was set up a rainwater harvesting system. The image a left shows one of our totes now, in the depths of winter, with the downspout removed and the tote empty. Replacing the downspout will have to be an annual ritual until I add some additional downspout and a bypass line. This was kind of a quick and dirty job and I learned my lessons along the way. The tote will have to be covered to prevent algae growth. I need to fabricate a dirt diverter to keep the interior of the tote a little cleaner and I am going to install a proper hose and piping system to make the garden watering process simpler and hopefully automated.
There are tons of online instructions on how to set up a simple system like this, and lots of info for more complicated ones, so I will just let you know about my experiences and then give you some links. As I already said, a simple set of covers to block out the light would pretty much eliminate the growth of algae. Some lightweight plastic sheeting would work. Something that can be zip tied to the framework would allow removal if necessary and would be handier and last longer than plywood. Located out in the country, with my totes out of sight behind buildings, I don’t have to worry about looks too much. But if I wanted to fancy it up, I know a source of rough sawn cedar planks where I can get seconds. I also know a source of cedar slabs from a lumber sawing process that I can get for free. I would be tempted to go that way. In addition there are made for purpose covers available or it wouldn’t be hard to make your own. See the link at the end of this post for an example.
My garage (shown in the photo above) is relatively new and the soil around the foundation is not particularly compacted, so I took an extra step to ensure the weight of the tote wouldn’t cause any settling. You can see in the photo that I used patio stones as bases for the concrete blocks I used under my 4″ x 4″ pressure treated legs.
Placing the blocks on edge provides the strongest foundation for the load spreading blocks. I do not expect any shifting of my tote support with this arrangement.
The final height of the tote gives me an excellent flow rate, just from gravity. You can see in the first picture that it is easy to stick even a five gallon plastic pail under the nozzle. Below is a closer look at the way I constructed the tote support.
The legs go inside the 2 x 8’s and there are two additional cross beams under the tote.
There are plenty of different ways to get your own tote rainwater harvesting system. Here are some links to different ideas: