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Rain Harvesting DIY Project for Dry Days

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Living in the Pacific Northwest means seeing lots of rain throughout the year. With the notion of being able to capture some of the rain that would normally hit the roof, flow through the gutters, out the downspout, then into the drain, I set out to build a rain barrel system that would capture the rain and allow easy access of the supply (Water catching: Shelter in place or bug in with fresh water).

I sourced some HDPE 55 gallon barrels which would resist UV rays and hamper the growth of algae. After a using a pressure washer to clean out the remaining contents of the barrels I picked up a variety of ABS fittings to connect the system together.

I set-up a little work area with my trusty Black and Decker Workmate and a chop saw, and made a pile of pressure treated 4×4′s and 2×4′s close at hand making cutting the lumber a breeze.

To get the proper spacing and ensure I had adequate room to place a bucket or watering can under, I laid out everything on the ground before I bolted it into place.

Having pre-cut some aluminum angle and punching some holes in them with the iron worker sure made assembly a breeze.

With the prospect of having upwards of 1400lbs of water at full capacity, some beefy stainless steel feet were fabricated to disperse the weight and give it a better footing on the soil.

A dry fit to check for clearances and alignment.

I then cut 12 pieces of 2×4 at an angle to cradle the barrels, and with a scrap piece of wood for my backstop this ensured consistent cuts and perfect symmetry.

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This design has a filter to keep debris and mosquitos from entering the system while also allowing the the overflow to run back into the downspout when it is full ensuring no messy mud puddles. After a few rainstorms over the course of a week in the month of June (summer in Seattle) this system was full to the brim and bulging with anticipation to water the flowers and plants. One interesting tidbit of science: after testing the harvested water I discovered it had a pH of 6, which is much more ideal for watering plants than the ~8-8.5 I saw out of the tap. All the more reason to use this harvested rain to water the house plants, and any other picky plants.


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This is another system I helped a customer build which incorporates an old wine barrel on a re-purposed metal desk, level viewer, and a personalized CNC plasma cut nameplate (by SuperDave).

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    • Arcturus

      Great system. You might find it more secure to make a small table with a 1×4 or 2×4 on the bottom to clamp into the workmate. I use this and find it more secure when using the chop saw on my workmate. I also have longer and wider tables for general work in places away from my workbences.

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