Rain Water Storage: Useful Water Saving Techniques Rain Water Storage: Useful Water Saving Techniques

Capturing and storing rain water is an easy way to help conserve a precious natural resource. Fortunately, there are a number of innovative and useful techniques to save and use rain water you can implement in your own home.

The Basics: Rain Water Storage System Functions

Any rain water storage system has four main functions:


    * Catching rain water in roof and gutters or barrels, cisterns, tanks (catchment area)
    * Moving the captured water through piping and downspouts (delivery system)
    * Removing debris and cleaning the water (treatment system, including filters and purifiers)
    * Storage until use (holding vessels such as cisterns, tanks)

The simplest rain water storage systems capture and store water in barrels. But there are varying types of systems that increase in complexity to the point that they require input from architectural, engineering, rainwater and water filtration specialists. Additionally, any rainwater that is intended for use as drinking water needs stricter protection and treatment measures, such as gravity filters and first flush diverters to catch debris. Water for indoor use must also be purified and disinfected, usually with chlorine or particle filtration and ultraviolet light.

Costs to implement a rain water storage system can range from as little as $200 for simple landscaping needs to a complete, complex system for around $20,000. Also, depending on whether the roof needs extensive modification to catch rain, the costs could go even higher.

Warranties also vary for different systems, but can generally range from 1 to 5 years.

Rain Water Harvesting System

Perfect for the urban environment to collect water for outdoor use, but also useful in any water-conscious area, the innovative rain water harvesting system helps save water and provides natural beauty with created green space. The system provides 100 gallons of rain water storage within an 8-foot vertical planted frame. The vertical stainless steel arrangement sits beneath an eaves trough downspout, which collects rainwater. The water pressure that results is sufficient to operate a hose that can be kept in the storage compartment at the unit’s base. A climbing plant, such as ivy, can also be planted in the base and will eventually grow to disguise the frame and improve green space and aesthetics. Other water-wise techniques include an LED-lit water level indicator, and the unit can be situated either horizontally or vertically.

Corrugated Steel Cisterns


An ideal solution for rain water collection and storage, suitable for varying water collection needs, corrugated steel cisterns can hold from 5,000 to 30,000 gallons. They may be constructed from 18-, 16- and 12-gauge ribbed culvert steel with a 2-ounce per square foot hot-dipped zinc coating. Stainless or galvanized steel cisterns with a baked-enamel finish that is certified lead-free are also appropriate. The tanks are lined with a protective material such as polypropelene, and may have a honeycombed wood roof frame for filtering debris. Cisterns can be placed and backfilled to all but disappear into new or existing landscaping.

RainMaster Underground Special

This commercially-available rain water harvesting system is a complete package for about $1,600. You choose the tank. Included are: overflow siphon, pump with base, floating and self-cleaning filters, electronic pump control, entry and overflow grommets, bulkhead fitting, in-ground first-flush kit and calming inlet.

Barrels and Above-Ground Tanks

Simple rain water collection items include 50-gallon-tanks that can be bought in a number of decorative styles, such as faux wood grain finishes and flat backs, to allow them to be placed against a wall. Systems can include an inlet screen and spigot at the base.

Slimline above-ground tanks include items such as a 305-gallon capacity that costs about $2,000 and includes: a tank with inlet strainer and cover, outlets with threaded inserts and plugs, overflow elbow, leaf catcher and water diverter kits, connectors, access plate, float valves, external pressure pump, pump cover and flex hose. There’s also a 660-gallon, low-profile, above-ground package for about $2,500, or an 865-gallon round tank complete system in the same price range.

Decorative Rain Water Collection Systems

For the homeowner who needs water for gardening purposes, numerous decorative rain water collection systems are available. These include 50- to 85-gallon terra cotta rain barrels, planter-top rain barrels, trickle systems and others. Numerous colors, shapes and designs are available with prices ranging from $150 to $500.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!