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building rain barrels

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I want to set up some rain barrels and am unsure a) how to locate a source of some free barrels and b) what would be a good location for barrels.  Folks set them up for roof runoff, yes?  Any danger of contamination that way?  Runoff from human-made surfaces always makes me nervous.
author and steward
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I think you can get barrels for free.  It seems like there is some outfit through the city of Seattle that encourages this sort of thing.  I once scored some free barrels through craigslist.

In Bill Mollison's big black permaculture book, he talks about how to not let the first couple of gallons come into your barrel.  The idea is that the first couple of gallons are damn nasty, but after that, the water is pretty clean.
rachael hamblin
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By "first couple of gallons" does that apply to every rain?  Do you keep them covered for the first hour of rainfall or how does that play out?

Are there methods of home filtration that could remove impurities from roofs, smog the rain picked up, etc?
paul wheaton
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I seem to recall that he had a contraption where it would capture the first two gallons (or so) and then the weight of the full container would cause it to tip over, thus diverting the rest of the runoff to the barrel.  I suppose that once the water in the little container would leak out (or dry out) it would pop back up to do the job again for the next rain.
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You can use plastic feed barrels from a feed store (livestock or pet). Set up gutters for rain collection from roof, sieve the gutters in several places with thin wire mesh (smallest weave you can find or a series from large to medium to small to fine. Be prepared to clean your gutters frequently but this reduces runoff contamination.)

Also, If allowed to sit rain barrel collection allows sediment to fall to the bottom of the barrel and the top 3/4 or more of the barrel is clean potable water.

Water from a rain barrel can be used for non-consumption water use, clothes and dish washing, showering, plant watering, etc. which makes any contamination of low importance. You can use a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to clean water (per gallon as withdrawn) with little taste effect.

You can use a metal feed trough and drain the bottom water out daily (spigot or plug), allowing a pretty clean supply to build up. Problem with water troughs is that they are too open to use by wildlife and infestation by mosquitoes and other larvae but wire mesh can be placed over the top to prevent encroachment. Most wildlife will figure a way to get in; since many regional areas resorting to the use of water barrels are water-challenged (arid or in drought) and have capped local water holes once open to wildlife to achieve fullest possible conservation of local water resources so  local wildlife is left without any water in their territories and they are extremely motivated to figure out a way around your fencing. Watching animals go miles and miles outside their territories and out of their way in the arid southwest to find a water source that is not tapped and capped by humans is troublesome to the conscience so you might consider leaving an open water source on your property for local wildlife if necessary. Nevertheless, in the northwest, it should not be a problem depending on what you need the water for.

Rinse sediment out of the barrel bottom when you have approached empty, use hydrogen peroxide to clean and reuse barrel. In Alaska, even the grubby bottom water tastes great, a little earthy but sweet nonetheless.
Posts: 299
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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What do you intend to do with the rainwater you collect? If you're just going to use it to water plants, flush the toilet, or run the washing machine you probably don't need to worry much about filtration (and maybe you could even pass on shunting the first couple of gallons).

If you have a metal/tile roof, you could consider drinking it (I wouldn't consume it if it was from asphalt/composite shingles, though). In this case you would want to incorporate a first flush system. An elegant one I've heard about uses an old style metal milk container (like farmers used to use...the kind that holds about 5 gallons and has a narrow neck) and a volleyball. You drill a very small hole in the bottom of the milk jug so water can drain very slowly (drop at a time). Then you put the volleyball inside and inflate it. Put this contraption under a gutter  (or better yet under a downspout from all your gutters tied together) and the first five gallons of water will run into the jug. As the jug fills up the volleyball will float up toward the top and soon plug up the jug. Then the water will overflow to whatever storage device you choose. Since the hole in the bottom is really tiny the jug will drain much more slowly than it fills and you will be harvesting the bulk of most rain events. Don't forget you can always still make use of the first flush water for irrigation, pond refill, or swale filler.

For your storage food-grade, plastic, 55 gallon drums should be available for free (make sure you find out what was in them!) or for purchase (about $35/each). I'd suggest a black one if you can get it so light penetration won't be a problem. Make sure you set up your system so that the storage drum is covered so your water doesn't get contaminated or propagate mosquitoes. With acid rain being a problem in the PNW, you might also consider putting a chunk of limestone in the bottom of your storage tank (or if you want some good woo woo magic you could throw in a chunk of amethyst or quartz). Whatever you use to cover the container you should put in some screened holes so the water doesn't become stagnant. Also keep it out of the sun so that it doesn't heat up or form algae.

For filtration you could use a slow sand filter for the water coming out of the barrel. I've attached a PDF about how to make one.

Don't forget to think in terms of gravity feed. Put the first-flush system as high as possible. Then put your storage just slightly lower than the top of the first flush system. Then put the slow sand filter in a position that allows you to turn on the tap and make the water run. The higher  you can make your storage tank, the better pressure you'll have and the more options you'll have for how to use the water.

Catching rainwater is a great idea (even if you save it and only use it in case of fire). I've heard that recently there have been large regions in Australia where rainwater catchment on all buildings has become mandatory.

Good luck!

Filename: Sand-Water-Filter.pdf
File size: 138 Kbytes
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fyi, on may 4th in tacoma there'll be a workparty to install a rainbarrel with dan borba, and also how to set up a slow sand filter!

for info call carolyn 253-222-5959
rachael hamblin
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Kelda:  Whoa, awesome!  I'll check that out   Will there be a carpool or anything to the site?

Dave:  we'll probably be using it to water plants, wash dishes, and the like.  If we could drink it as well that would be amazing.  As we don't own our property we're not really in a position to do any plumbing (in terms of setting it up with the washer, etc although that would be awesome).  I'm not sure (I'll go check in the morning) but I think we probably have composite shingles.  Any way to filter the nastiness out or should I abandon that route for now?
Dave Boehnlein
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Location: Orcas Island, WA
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If you have asphalt shingles I would go ahead and use it for irrigation. The water running off the roof is going to hit the yard anyway, right? So you might as well. I don't know of anything that would filter out the nastys you might find on an asphalt roof. Perhaps reverse osmosis? But setting that up will probably be way expense than I'd be looking for as a renter.

paul wheaton
author and steward
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Sorry for the size of this.  (wow, it is so big that the forum software is forcing me to break this up)

For those that don't know, there is a really good permaculture mailing list at http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/permaculture .  I was catching up a bit on that list and came across this post. 


Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 2: Water-Harvesting Earthworks


Hello Water Harvesters.

"Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond,
Volume 2: Water-Harvesting Earthworks" is NOW AVAILABLE!
You can order it from my website or any
bookstore. (Though it works best for me to order
it through my website, since less money is
funneled off, and I can direct more funds to
research, education, and getting the next volume
done). You can place order by check via the mail
or with credit card or pay pal - see the book
order page on the website for details.

I've also updated the website with more great resources!
In particular, I recommend you check out the
• "Water Harvesting Demonstration Sites"
• "Water Harvesting Financial Incentives"
• and all the rest found under the "Rainwater
Harvesting Info/Resources" menu button

In addition, check out the "Images, Video, and
Audio" menu button for more interactive stuff and sensory stimuli.

I will continually update and revise the website
- so keep checking back, especially for all the
events, workshops, and presentations I keep adding.

Let me know what you think with both the book and
the website I appreciate all constructive feedback.

Now get out there and harvest and plant the rain to grow abundance!

- Brad Lancaster

Earthworks are one of the easiest, least
expensive, and most effective ways of passively
harvesting and conserving multiple sources of
water in the soil. Associated vegetation then
pumps the harvested water back out in the form of
beauty, food, shelter, wildlife habitat, and
passive heating and cooling strategies, while
controlling erosion, increasing soil fertility,
reducing downstream flooding, and improving water and air quality.

Building on the information presented in Volume
1, this book shows you how to select, place,
size, construct, and plant your chosen
water-harvesting earthworks. It presents detailed
how-to information and variations of a diverse
array of earthworks, including chapters on mulch,
vegetation, and greywater recycling so you can
customize the techniques to the unique requirements of your site.

Real life stories and examples permeate the book, including:
  * How curb cuts redirect street runoff to
passively irrigate flourishing shade trees planted along the street.
  * How check dams have helped create springs
and perennial flows in once-dry creeks
  * How infiltration basins are creating thriving rain-fed gardens
  * How backyard greywater laundromats are
turning “wastewater” into a resource growing
food, beauty, and shade that builds community, and more
  * How to create simple tools to read slope and water flow
  * More than 450 illustrations and photographs

Praise for Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2

“Brad Lancaster has written the definitive how-to
guide for harvesting rainwater. Much of this
information has been near impossible to find, and
we owe Brad a huge debt for assembling it so
lucidly. These universal principles work not just
in drylands, but in wetter climates too. This is
by far the best resource for designing and
building Earth-friendly, low-cost solutions to
help us save our most precious resource, water.”
Toby Hemenway, author of “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture”

“Everyone wants to ‘go green’ lately and,
usually, the expression is followed by a plug for
a new product. Brad offers a shovel instead, and
directs you, literally, not figuratively, to your
own back yard. We’ve tried some of the methods
explained in this book, and they work. Even if
you’re a lazy, mediocre, vagabond gardener, like
we are, they still work. And if you don’t take
the time to understand every technical detail so
thoroughly outlined in this bible of rainwater– these methods still will work.”
–Shay Salomon and Nigel Valdez, author and
photographer, “Little House on a Small Planet”

“Get out your shovels and dance in the rain! That
is what Brad Lancaster’s second volume in his
trilogy on rainwater harvesting, will make you
want to do. This outstanding book provides an
abundance of well-documented ideas and tools for
sustainable living in your watershed. You don’t
have to let wasteful, polluting large-scale water
systems get you down­get out, get wet, and become
a positive part of the hydrological cycle!”
–David A. Cleveland, U of California, Santa
(http://www.es.ucsb.edu/faculty/cleveland/) and
Center for People, Food and Environment;
co-author of “Food from Dryland Gardens”

For more Volume 2 testimonials click

Book specifications:

  * ISBN 978-0-9772464-1-0
  * LCCN 2007943019
  * Published by Rainsource Press
  * Distributed in North America by
<http://www.chelseagreen.com/>Chelsea Green Publishing Company 1-800-639-4099
  * Distributed in Australia by
<http://www.towerbooks.com.au>Tower Books 02-9975-5599
  * Paperback
  * 8.5 X 11
  * 448 pages
  * Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper
  * Categories: Rainwater harvesting, Water
harvesting, Landscape design, Ecology,
Sustainable development, Do-it-yourself
technology, Sustainable stormwater management, Erosion control
and Reviews
2 Foreword by Andy Lipkis
2 Resource Pages (appendix 6)

Volume 2 Foreword by Andy Lipkis

“G’day! How yur tanks?”

This four-word greeting changed my life.

Twenty-one years ago while traveling up the east
coast of Australia with my wife and infant
daughter, I noticed that nearly every
conversation between rural Australians began with this question.

Instead of the automatic, “How are you?” or “Nice
weather,” it was a specific question that­once I
figured out what it meant­spoke volumes about
these people’s connections: to the land, to each other, and to the environment.

Tanks, also known as cisterns, are the very large
containers that store captured rainwater and
provide rural Australians with their life
support: vital water for drinking, bathing, and
gardening. Many rely exclusively on captured rainwater for all their needs.

This one question bundled and abbreviated a
collection of concerns: How is your water supply
holding out? How has the rain treated you? How
are you doing in managing your land and water?
How is your family holding up? At what state of
readiness do we need to be for our community today?

Having spent much of my life working to awaken
people’s awareness and inspire them to take
personal responsibility for the environment, I
was flabbergasted at the advanced state of
consciousness being expressed by these Aussies,
and I saw in that awareness an answer to the
water crisis facing cities both in my native Los
Angeles as well as in arid and non-arid lands around the world.

And for that same reason, I congratulate and
thank you for picking up this book. You wouldn’t
be reading this if you didn’t have an awareness
of the need to take responsibility and action
either to secure your own water supply or help
solve the larger looming problems. Whether you
are in it for selfish or selfless reasons, you
are a pioneer and taking on the role of
environmental healer. You are an early
adapter­because of climate change and other
issues­to a world that is already experiencing
ever-increasing water and energy issues.

Your experience, persistence, and success in this
new wave of rainwater harvesting may lead the way
to wide-scale systemic adoption and implementation in cities around the world.

Rainwater capture is transitioning from an
individual act of personal survival and
self-reliance, to one that is replanting seeds of
community, interdependence, resilience, and sustainability.

The local and global world water situation is
becoming urgent. As humans in first world
nations, our consumption and waste of natural
resources is generating sufficient pollution and
depletion to damage and impair the healthy
functioning of nearly every natural system on
earth. These ecosystems are our life-support
infrastructure for clean, abundant, and safe
water, as well as food, oxygen, and a stable
climate. Reversing the degradation requires a
profound transformation of individual and communal perspective and behavior.

Instead of believing that government and
centralized systems are in charge of the
environment, we must shift to the other end of
the spectrum where individuals, families,
households, neighborhoods, villages, and towns
take personal and collective responsibility and
see that they are the managers of the ecosystem
and their natural life support systems. In this
emerging paradigm, government can and must
provide information, guidance, feedback,
resources, incentives, and systems that enable
people to utilize their passion, compassion,
creativity, and other energies to help out on an ongoing basis.

If the issues above aren’t reason enough, it is
important to realize that harvesting rainwater is
a crucial means of fighting global warming and
preparing our homes, families, neighborhoods, and
communities for the coming consequences.

As you read this book, you’ll find that rainwater
harvesting practiced as prescribed herein is
really watershed and ecosystem stewardship. In
sculpting your landscape and creating water
capture systems, you will be restoring,
revitalizing, or mimicking natural systems such
as forest watersheds; as such, you’ll be
repairing the ecosystem and laying the
foundations of your community’s sustainability.
And you will be a leader. Any change you make on
your home can become a demonstration and model
that others­your neighbors, elected officials, or
government agency staff­will be able to study and copy.

As president of TreePeople, a nonprofit
organization I founded 37 years ago, I like to
say that we are helping nature heal our cities.
Our work is to inspire people to take personal
responsibility and participate in making their
cities sustainable urban environments. Our prime
focus is to support people in designing,
planting, and caring for functioning community
forests in every neighborhood in Los Angeles (at
the time of this writing, one of the world’s least sustainable megacities).

Forests are natural sustainability
infrastructure. Trees are THE basic earthwork.
Amongst other things, trees and forests, and the
highly porous and mulched soil beneath them,
capture, slow, filter, store, and recycle
rainwater, and thereby recharge streams,
groundwater aquifers, and springs. They provide
protection from droughts, floods, and
pollution­cleaning the water so it’s drinkable
and usable. Trees and forests sustain life.
Unfortunately, when most cities were created, the
land’s original watershed functionality was
unwittingly destroyed. The idea behind
functioning community forests is to plant trees
and manage the land in cities in a way that
mimics natural forests, bringing water,
protection, and resources back to urban
residents. However, since urbanization has sealed
so much of the land with buildings, roads, and
parking lots, simply planting trees and creating
green spaces often isn’t enough to make up for
the lost watershed. By adding additional
rainwater harvesting technologies that are
designed to mimic nature, such as
earthworks­infiltration pits, swales, and
cisterns­it is possible to replace the watershed
and ecosystem functions that were lost.

The magnitude of the water crisis­and the
opportunity­became clear to me in 1992, when the
US Army Corps of Engineers proposed to spend half
a billion dollars to increase the capacity of the
Los Angeles River by raising the height of its
concrete walls. The Corps determined that the Los
Angeles area had been so overpaved that, instead
of soaking into the ground, rainwater from a
100-year storm event would rush off all the paved
and sealed surfaces so quickly that it would
overwhelm the river and flood the nearby cities of southern L.A. County.

It was at that moment that the “How Yur Tanks?”
lessons clicked for me. I wondered how much of
our 14.7 inches (373 mm) of average annual
rainfall we were throwing away each year, and
whether we could use that half billion dollars
for cisterns to capture and use that precious
rainwater, just like the Australians. I asked the
county’s flood control engineers and they
dismissed the idea, stating that replacing the
river walls would require installing a
20,000-gallon (75,800-liter) tank at each of one
million homes­an expensive and impossible task.
The local water supply and stormwater quality
agencies had similar responses to my questions.
The idea was too expensive for their individual
missions and budgets and would require what they
all considered to be completely unacceptable
lifestyle changes on the part of the public. In
the process of these discussions, however, I
learned that our average rainfall, if harvested
and used appropriately, could replace the portion
of our imported water that we use for landscape
irrigation­roughly half of the one billion
dollars worth of water the city of Los Angeles IMPORTED every year.

What seemed impossible to the agencies was
perfectly logical to me. Having participated in
design and deployment of LA City’s
extraordinarily successful curbside recycling
program that now serves 750,000 households, the
magnitude of the task didn’t worry me. I
researched and found out that the separate
water-related agencies had separate, unconnected
plans to spend a combined $20 billion in the next
decade or so to upgrade or repair their
respective systems, yielding only “band-aids”
with no overall improvement in sustainability of the region.

So, I began designing a 20,000-gallon
(75,800-liter) cistern that could safely fit in a
small urban yard without compromising anyone’s
lifestyle or posing any threat during our
occasional earthquakes. It turned out to be a
modular 2-foot-wide, linear, recycled food-grade
plastic tank that could replace the fence or wall
that separates most urban and suburban
residential properties. Further, I proposed to
outfit all the tanks with wireless
remote-controlled valves and pumps that would
enable flood control, water supply, and
stormwater quality officials to centrally manage
the multitude of independent tanks as one highly adaptable storage network.

paul wheaton
author and steward
Posts: 49450
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
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(part 2)

The networked mini-reservoirs could thereby
perform at least triple service for potentially
less money than all the agencies’ separate
projects. By adapting all the areas’ landscapes
to become functioning community forest
watersheds, my system was intended to produce
multiple additional benefits such as creating
tens of thousands of new green-collar jobs,
saving copious amounts of electricity (by
reducing air conditioning needs with well-placed
shade trees AND reducing the pumping required to
import water over the mountains into Los
Angeles), reusing all garden and landscape
biomass and prunings on site as mulch, creating a
new local plastic recycling industry product and
market, and creating a disaster-resilient backup local water supply.
This was a lovely and compelling vision, but no
one in an official capacity took it seriously. I
realized I’d need to do something to prove that
the idea was feasible, both technically and
economically. That notion turned into a six-year
program of design, feasibility, and cost-benefit
analysis that became known as the T.R.E.E.S.
Project (Transagency Resources for Environmental
and Economic Sustainability). It involved
hundreds of engineers, landscape and building
architects, foresters, scientists, and economists
who collaborated to create a book full of designs
and specifications (Second Nature, TreePeople,
2000) to retrofit or adapt every major land use
in Los Angeles to function as urban forest
watersheds. Other team members spent two years
conducting a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. And
finally, we built a demonstration project,
adapting a single-family home in South Los
Angeles. The story of the T.R.E.E.S. Project,
including all of its major partners and
participants, is told at

The demonstration site, known as the Hall House
(named for its owner, Rozella Hall), had a
relatively simple set of interconnected
earthworks designed to capture, clean, store, and
use rainwater from a massive storm event, and
prevent any of the rainwater or biomass from
leaving the property and thus being wasted. We
built berms around the lawns, installed a mulched
swale, put in a diversion drain to pick up
driveway runoff and carry it to a sand filter
under the lawn, fabricated and installed two
modular 1,800-gallon (6,822-liter) fence-cisterns
which were fed by rooftop rain gutters through a
filter, then connected to the irrigation system,
and finally, planted a trellis “green wall” of
climbing roses to shade and cool the house’s
sun-heated south-facing wall. We also removed 30%
of the lawn and replaced the remaining turf area with drought-tolerant grass.

Then, on a hot August day in 1998, we invited our
agency partners, numerous public works officials,
and the news media to see the demonstration
house. We handed them umbrellas and unleashed a
1,500-year flood event, pumping and spraying on
that one house 4,000 gallons (15,160 liters) of
water in ten minutes. Officials huddled in
stunned silence as they watched the water fall
and flow, pooling in the bermed lawns and
cistern. They saw that none of the water flowed
to the street and stormdrain system. They saw
how, in that one instant, their annual
billion-dollar burden of separate infrastructure
systems and needs were elegantly bundled and
handled. The result: no stormwater pollution, no
street flooding, no greenwaste, dramatic water
and energy savings, more attractive landscape,
and potentially thousands of new jobs.

The head of LA County Public Works’ flood control
division couldn’t contain his enthusiasm and
proclaimed that the simple elegance meant this
demonstration could be easily replicated. A day
later, after he and his staff reviewed both our
engineered designs and cost-benefit analysis, he
called me: “I’m sorry. We didn’t understand. We
think you’ve cracked it. Your idea needs to be
deployed throughout the whole county, but it’s
going to cost more and take more time than you
think. But despite that, we need to begin scaling
this up immediately. We’d like to try this idea
to solve one of the county’s most persistent urban flooding problems.”

That was the beginning of the Sun Valley
Watershed project, located in the City of Los
Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. After a successful
two-year feasibility study, the County Public
Works Department launched a thorough
“stakeholder-led” watershed management planning
and environmental impact analysis. Six years
later, both the plan and environmental report
were approved; construction of the first project
began within a few weeks. The plan calls for the
retrofit of 20% to 40% of the watershed’s 8,000
homes, and installation of a diverse network of
earthworks. The earthworks mix ranges from simple
to complex, beginning with tree planting,
pavement removal, mulching, and berming. On the
more complex end, the projects will include
installing street swales, and school watershed
parks that replace asphalt play yards with
permeable greenspaces above large underground
infiltration systems and cisterns. Details of the
Sun Valley Watershed Plan, progress and planning
process are available at

The Sun Valley Watershed planning process
informed and transformed many of the
participating agencies and organizations and
inspired others who followed the process. For
example, Los Angeles County Public Works formed a
new, integrated Watershed Management Division.
The City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation
launched and completed its first ever Integrated
Resources Plan for Water. And among several
cities outside the Los Angeles area, the City of
Seattle initiated its Salmon Friendly Seattle
program, which seeks to restore viable salmon
habitat throughout the metropolitan area by
revitalizing watershed and forest functionality
in all the city’s neighborhoods.

There are several keys to the projects’ successes so far:
1) we demonstrated that these adaptations
represented acceptable and attractive lifestyle
changes that would be politically palatable;
2) we demonstrated with rigorous engineering that
they were technically feasible, safe, and capable of solving pressing problems;
3) we demonstrated that they were economically
feasible by identifying multiple outcomes and
benefits that altogether would over time save
money for the assembled funding partners; and
4) we engaged and educated all the stakeholders
from both the community (including children) and relevant agencies.

This story is far from over. As it continues to
unfold it presents a variety of political,
jurisdictional, and regulatory issues and
problems that we work to resolve. My initial
vision was that so much water and money could be
saved by local governments that agencies would
help individuals and businesses cover the costs
of installing and maintaining the systems on
their properties. That is now happening in some
cities, such as Santa Monica, Seattle, and
Houston, that are giving grants for cisterns and water-saving landscapes.

As we confront growing water-quality and supply
issues, plus the increased threat of flooding and
weather-related calamities, it is increasingly
urgent that we find ways of adapting our homes,
neighborhoods, towns, and cities to become
climate change and disaster resilient. You have a
huge role to play in protecting your household
and region by personally implementing some of the
water-harvesting practices detailed in this book.
If you do this, and make yours a demonstration
project, you will help prove that it is feasible
and attractive for your region. You will make it
more politically palatable, so your local
politicians can pass laws, change ordinances and
codes, and make resources available to help
others implement on a wide scale. And then,
collectively, we just might tip the balance and
put our nation on the road to a healthy, just, and sustainable future.

Dig in and have fun.

-Andy Lipkis

Andy Lipkis is president of TreePeople, a Los Angeles-based social-profit

Volume 2 Resource Pages (appendix 6)

This appendix provides a comprehensive list of
helpful resources; it includes much more than
just the texts cited in Rainwater Harvesting for
Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2. This list begins
with general rainwater-harvesting resources. Then
sections II through XXV follow the topical order
in the preface, introduction, chapters, and
epilogue. Sections XXVI through XXIX provide
helpful funding, financial incentives,
human-powered pumps, and water conservation
resources. Note: On website URLs: For long URLs,
some readers may find it easier to just type in a
title search in Google or another search engine.
Almost all URLs listed below (or the organization
from which a downloadable document is available) are resources in themselves.
General Resources for Harvesting Rainwater with Earthworks
(Preface). Mr. Zephaniah Phiri, ZWRP Zvishavane Water Resources Project
(Preface). Santa Cruz River, southern Arizona
(Preface). Water Conservation Strategies for the
Industrial and Conventional Agriculture Sectors and Beyond
<http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/books/volume2/volume-2-resource-pages-appendix-6/v-introduction-soil-and-vegetation the-foundation-of-earthworks -living-systems/>V
(Introduction). Soil and vegetation–the
foundation of earthworks’ living systems
(Introduction). Fossil-fuel-free Landscaping/Gardening
(Introduction). Taking Action to Reduce Global
Warming and Our Ecological Footprint
(Introduction). Water Harvesting in India
(Chapter 1). Assessing Your Site, Choosing Your
Earthworks, and Tips on Implementation
<http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/books/volume2/volume-2-resource-pages-appendix-6/x-chapter-2-berm- n-basins/>X
(Chapter 2). Berm ‘n Basins
(Chapter 3). Terraces
(Chapter 4). French Drains
(Chapter 5). Infiltration Basins
(Chapter 6). Imprinting
(Chapter 7). Mulching
(Chapter . Reducing Hardscape
(Chapter . Permeable Paving
(Chapter 9). Diversion Swales
(Chapter 10). Check Dams
(Chapter 11). Vegetation
(Chapter 12). Greywater Harvesting
(Chapter 12). Composting
(Chapter 12). Composting Toilets
(Epilogue). Community and Commons Activism
(Epilogue) Watershed Awareness and Restoration
Grants and Funding Resources
Water-Harvesting Financial Incentives/Programs
Water Efficiency/Conservation
Human-Powered Pumps and Hand-Dug Wells
Posts: 2603
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some health clubs get their soap in big plastic barrels and can be a source for free rain collecters.
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he use of rain barrels is not only great for the environment but also great for your garden. Every drop of rain water that you collect from your roof and store for your garden is a drop of water that doesn't have to come from your local water reservoir, which can only be a good thing as many parts of the planet are now suffering from the affects of drought.

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Location: Oakland, CA
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Charcoal should get most sorts of asphalt nastiness out. Commercial filter cartridges are a bit un-economical, but there are online instructions on re-filling them with ordinary activated charcoal.

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Location: Ottawa, Canada
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Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but I've heard that putting a chunk of concrete in the barrel will help remove heavy metals in the water.

I guess the lime in the concrete attracts it?
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you want a cheap filter, consider putting a paper coffee filter in the funnel to get most of the big stuff.  It won't keep up with a heavy rain on a large roof, but it does have its uses.
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i have a small shed near my food forest garden and hope to add guttering and a rain barrel for extra water for that garden area this year..am learning some from this info but wouldn't need to have it "clean" for drinking, but would have to have it "clean" for not clogging my soaker hoses ..probably will have to flush them more often though..

did have a little drought problem back there last year and had to run the water from my pump..don't want to have to do that again !! it is a few hundred feet to pump it.
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I'll toss this in.

Six pallets, some scavenged cable, some scrap carpet for padding, and a blue tarp.  1000 gallons.

Blue tarp has a short life when exposed to the sun.  After a year I replaced it with greenhouse plastic, which could last a decade if protected from the worst of the sun.  This arrangement finally failed when the liner ripped due to ice one winter.  If that hadn't happened it would have failed due to the pallets rotting. 

I've got a smaller one elsewhere that's made from a couple pallets and half sheets of plywood.  It's basically 4'x4'x3', which is about 300 gallons.

In a place with milder winters, and put on a decent foundation, these could last a good long time.  And they're dirt cheap.

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