Happiness is a Full Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel overflowing with rain water

I love living in the Desert Southwest. We have hundred-mile views, low-humidity and 300 days of sunshine per year. But, the other side of all that sunshine is an average of 14 inches of rain per year. Unfortunately, the rains come mostly during the late summer monsoons, not evenly throughout the year. What little rain we do get is precious and worth saving. The easiest way to harvest our irregular, seasonal rains is with rain barrels.

Getting to where we could use rain barrels took some time. First and foremost was installing a new roof. After many months of saving money, researching roof types and roofing contractors we finally have a solid new roof. Since our house has a pitched roof we chose Pro-Panel™ which is a popular brand of corrugated steel roof. Corrugated steel panels have several advantages over asphalt shingles - it has a much longer lifespan, sheds water easily and quickly, and it doesn't leach any toxins in to rainwater. With the new roof we have new, functioning gutters that feed into two new rainbarrels and french drains that water plantings.

The local hardware stores and nurseries all carry rain barrels of several types and sizes. I chose an inexpensive option, converted olive barrels. The barrels each hold 220 liters (about 58 gallons) and come with a screened top and a brass spigot near the bottom. I placed the rain barrels under the gutter downspouts about 5 minutes before a thunderstorm soaked our neighborhood. Within a couple of hours of buying them we now have two rain barrels filled to the brim!

Since only one storm filled our rain barrels, my next step will be to add capacity to our small rainwater harvesting 'system'. Daisy-chaining additional rain barrels may be the simplest way, but I need to do more research first. For now we have 116 gallons of rain water storage to save for a dry and sunny day.

More Info

Wikipedia - Rainwater Harvesting

Texas A&M University - Rainwater Harvesting

The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting

Climate of New Mexico

Santa Fe, NM - Rain Barrel Rebate

A Rain Barrel for the Size Conscious

Marten Law Group Box of Rain – States Take a Closer Look at Rainwater Harvesting