This evening, I finished up a project I've been working on over the last month or so. I've expanded my well-designed 110 gallon rainwater collection system from Austin Green Water by mating it with a used $100 set of rain barrels I bought from a neighbor.
The two Austin Green Water barrels feed from the downspout in the picture...the five blue plastic barrels take the overflow from the green barrels (I know, I know....what on earth would make me think we would have enough rain given our current drought? Being prepared means being ready to take advantage of things like rainfall to meet your water needs.)
My neighbor got these barrels from a food distributor...the inside of the barrels still smell like Dr. Pepper, which isn't a bad odor if you must have one in your used, food grade barrels. He used this system until recently, when he upgraded to a 5,000 gallon system. Which I openly covet.
Below, you can see the PVC manifold which feeds all five barrels as well as providing for a high capacity way to take water out of the system.
And here is the high tech, patent pending design I created and installed to feed the blue barrels. As the green barrels begin to drain out excess water once that system reaches capacity, that water will now go straight into the 275 gallon overflow recapture system.
If you live in the suburbs, your emergency water system is essentially limited to:
- Building a swimming pool and using that as your emergency source of water. Major financial commitment, assuming you have room your back yard. Upside is you will have a reservoir with thousands of gallons in it.
- Drilling a well in your backyard. May not be feasible for a number of reasons - cost and zoning come to mind.
- Storing water in barrels. Cheap option, although it begs the question - where are you going to keep all those barrels?
- Collecting rainfall in conjunction with barrel storage. Rainfall collection is easy, requires no fancy equipment, and the people in the business of installing rainwater collection systems are generally thrilled you're interested in the subject.
One inch of rain on 1,000 square feet of roof "footprint" yields a whopping 623 gallons. So, if you're area receives 20 inches of rain a year, and you had 1,500 square feet of roof footprint, you'd be able to harvest 18,690 gallons of water a year. For a family of four, that's almost 13 gallons of water a day for drinking, cooking, gardening and washing. While it might not be a lot, it's certainly enough to sustain someone in an emergency.
Water during a crisis would likely become a great barter item. Those of you with swimming pools who are into preparedness need to start thinking about how you'd maintain your cistern during an extended emergency. And for those of you who don't, start developing a water storage/collection strategy.