Rain Water Collecting and Storage, by Tom C.

Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011

Water, gotta have it.  In a world that has become limited or shut down completely there will never end the need for water on a daily basis.  Disruption to the supply from the local water company will wreck havoc on every single person and family within hours.

The immediate need will be toilets:  You come home from work, the kids from school and everyone heads to the same place after the car ride home.  Waters out.
Did you remember to pay the bill?  Pipe bust?  Water Company going maintenance?  Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter/ Can’t flush but that one last time with the water still in the tank, after that tank water is gone, the toilet just becomes a chair.   The waste piles up, what are you going to do? Well, with a little thinking ahead and having installed a rain collecting cistern, or by today’s more common name “rain barrel” that situation might not be anything more troubling than filling a container with water from the barrel and bringing it to the toilets reservoir tank.  After that it just becomes another chore. Beyond toilets staying flushed how many other functions in the daily human lifestyle require water?  Nearly everything.   

Now many people have a get-out-of-town mentality in the event of a major crisis no matter what the cause, be it an approaching hurricane, heavy storms, earthquake or even depending on where you live man made events such as riots, some kind of nuclear, chemical or biological attack.  It might work for a person to have “I’m outta here” such plan, I hope so if that is the course of action to be taken, but every time I have seen it, whether in real life or in a movie, everyone just gets stuck in one long traffic jam.  Look at most highways during a holiday weekend, and that is just the people that went away for a couple days.  Being stuck on a highway ramp with my family, as a horde of enraged rioters makes their way through the jammed up cars is not where I would want to be sitting. So, maybe you stayed home to hunker down, or maybe you turned back after attempting to leave, or maybe you made it to your hide out until whatever happened passes.  Now the water is off, or if at that undisclosed secret location there was never piped in water to begin with.  Now what?

Every single situation is possible; look at Haiti right now even over a year after their big earthquake, for instance.  An island with constant rainfalls and tropical.  Collecting water falling free and clear from the sky for use in human waste sanitation, cooking, drinking and cleaning should be a no-brainer.  Yet filthy water illnesses are popping up all over the place.  Why?  Because the people in Haiti are not taking responsibility for themselves or showing an ability to put in effect a practice that has been with human civilization since the beginning: Collecting and storing water for use later along with basic sanitation practices.  Bathing and drinking from waterways that have open sewage running off into them is not the best means for staying healthy or even alive.

If our forefathers, dating back to the first time a hoe stuck dirt could figure out how to do it, there should be no reason why we cannot.  Back before there was a city Department of Water people had to collect the rain in containers.  A home container could be just a couple hundred gallons, while a municipal cistern could be an underground cavern holding thousands of gallons of water.

Anything watertight and bowl shaped can become a cistern: a bucket, large basin, and those plastic storage bins that are available at nearly all the big box stores. But for easy of modification, durability, and storage capacity, I’m going to use the 55-gallon food grade plastic barrel, commonly blue in color.  These can be found at many reclamation/recycling plants.  I found a great source in my area just by web searching “plastic drums” with my county’s name.  Also you can check on Craigslist, I’ve bought several from there, but for my purpose of making rain barrels to sell, the Craigslist ones were to beat up, customers don’t like that.  But for someone making them for their own use they would be fine. The best place for water collecting is at the gutters of your home, or lacking gutters where the water runs off the roof the heaviest.

With an average size house, just one rainfall of merely 1/4-inch is plenty enough to fill your barrel. A 1 inch rainfall on a rooftop of 1,000 square feet will shed over 600 gallons of water.  So even if your home or safe house is smaller, you’re most likely going to be able to fill several rain barrels in one rainfall. Several barrels can be linked together beginning from the one that does the initial rain water collecting with readily available PVC fitting parts which are extremely inexpensive; giving each point of collection a vast reservoir potential of hundreds of gallons.  This may be exactly the storage ability you will need in the most extreme cases and may have to garden and raise your own crops. 

Barrel position ideas:
At a gutter downspout
Where water freely falls from an overhang
At a position under the gutter where a hole has been cut in the gutters span
In the open collecting free falling rain, perhaps with something like a funnel on the top to expand the collection area

Shower:
     Another good use would be as a small scale water tower for use in outdoor shower stalls and as water with pressure to an outdoor sink maybe used for cleaning game, vegetables, or washing dishes and cookware.
     All that would have to be done is build a platform high enough to produce some pressure and hold over 400 pounds of full barrel weight without falling over or collapsing. 
     Paint the barrel black if you’re able to help the water warm up in the sun, the water will get warm anyway but black doesn’t reflect the sun’s rays back as much as other colors.
     Run a hose adapted with a shower head and there you go, impromptu shower to keep you and yours feeling human.
     There really are so many ways and situations, every use will have to depend on location, situation, blending in with the surroundings, and in some cases secrecy.

Most common uses:
Filling buckets for car washing
Keep plants alive during an extended period without rain
Save your yard and garden green during water restriction Ordinances
during droughts
Soaker hose for garden watering
Fill water pails
Emergency water for toilets during an outage
Just to use less treated water, save money while saving a limited resource.*

Drinking:    
     Now for use as drinking water there have to be precautions made.  Drinking straight from a barrel may or may not be a risk.  Each person will have to assess the situation.  Risks include poisoning yourself, waterborne bacteria, and dissolved pollutants that entered the barrel while flowing to the barrel.  
     At the very least run water through a clean cloth. 
     Have some kind of water tester, a filter system that can function with limited water pressure. 
     A means to kill what’s in the water that can kill you such as: plain chlorine bleach, iodine, boiling, etc.
     That is a completely different article and should be researched by the user to fit their individual needs.
     Anyone drinking water untreated from a rain collection barrel assumes all risks themselves.

What do you need? Materials list:
A food grade 55 gallon plastic barrel (Avoid clear or translucent barrels if possible, as they promote algae growth when used in direct sunlight.)
1 - ¾ copper no kink spigot
1 - ¾ watertight metal connecter (used in electrical conduit).  Don’t even try the plastic version; spend the extra maybe only 50 cents.  Threads on the plastic one will not even survive the installation process.
Silicone
Teflon tape
1-1½ PVC elbow -threaded
1-1½ conduit locknut
Some means to screen out leaves, other debris and insects, namely mosquitoes.

     That is the minimum needed to create a single standalone rain barrel.
Compete step by step plans are available on Amazon.com and at Scribd.com.

     There are many plans out there on the internet; I experimented with several before deciding they were all garbage that wouldn’t last any real length of time during real world usage.  So with that I created my own plans from scratch.
     American ingenuity is not dead.

What makes my plans different is:
An all metal spigot, inside and out even with a closed top barrel
And when built is ready to use immediately in a multi barrel system using a connecting section of PVC as short as 4”.  

Make a small business by making these:
     I used these plans as a means to create a garage business, and so could any other industrious survival/preparedness minded person.
     Also by doing so you’re helping your neighbors get ready “just in case” without them even knowing it if they are of the –that will never happen to me- crowd.  You can label it “going green” or “conservation” and “plants like rain water better than tap water” as selling points, it doesn’t matter as long as people feel good about it and the side affect is of having that much needed resource available at a time of need.  And of course conservation is always important, no one will argue against that.


Copyright 2005-2012 James Wesley, Rawles - SurvivalBlog.com All Rights Reserved