As far back as 2011 – Dynamic Gutters reported that water will be the “oil of the 21st century”. See our info-graphic reposted here below. Yes, we live in Vancouver BC, where it appears water and rain is anything but “sparse”, but the fact of the matter is climates are changing, and experts are predicting much lower rainfall this season with the la niña effect. That means: expect water shortages next summer. You can take action now, and be the envy of your neighbourhood next year when water shortages and water restrictions run rampant again.
In addition, harvesting rainwater is an excellent way to significantly lower your annual water costs, reduce your dependence on the city of Vancouver’s water supply, and minimize your impact on the earth. There are many approaches to catching and utilizing rainwater, all of which are easy to implement and at little cost to you.
1) Roof Water Catchment
Perhaps the easiest method of harvesting rainwater is by capturing the runoff from your roof. By redirecting the flow of water from the existing gutter system into large rain barrels, you can store mass quantities of water for future use. A sloped roof is essential to rainwater catchment, as flat roofs will cause the water to pool up. A roof water catchment system is very easy to design. All that is needed is a large rain barrel and a downspout diverter. The downspout diverter can be attached to your existing gutter system. It will redirect the flow of water from the roof into the rain barrels. The water can then be used to irrigate your lawn or garden in the summer for example, or other times when rain is sparse.
2) Berms and Swales
A berm is a raised bed of packed soil and a swale is a shallow depression in the earth. When the two are used simultaneously, they can work to slow the flow of water that hits the ground and capture it in the soil. This method is specifically used to help increase moisture retention in landscapes and gardens, rather than to trap water for other uses. The berms will slow the water down, resulting in less runoff and allowing more of the water to be utilized by plants. Meanwhile, the swale will provide an area to trap excess water, enabling more to be absorbed into the soil. The berm and swale method is designed in contour with the earth, to maximize the water absorption and retention of your landscape, while minimizing runoff and evaporation.
3) Ponds and Reservoirs
Rainwater can be captured and stored through the use of ponds and reservoirs. Ponds provide a beautiful centerpiece to every landscape. They can greatly increase the biodiversity of the area by creating a habitat for water dwelling insects, plants, and animals. A pond will enable you to create a riparian zone within any climate, thus providing you the ability to grow moisture-loving plants in areas where that may otherwise be difficult. Having a backyard pond also provides the ability to raise fish. Keep in mind, depending on the climate of your region, ponds need to be dug at least three to five feet deep in order for the fish ad other organisms to survive the winter.
With even a small pond, you can begin to capture tens-of-thousands of litres of water a year. If you have implemented a roof water catchment system, you can run a hose from rain barrel downslope to the pond. Then you can catch any potential overflow from the roof runoff and have it channeled directly to your pond. It is very important to seal your pond using plastic liner or bentonite clay. Without proper sealant, the water will seep through the sides of the pond and be wasted.