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Rain Water Harvesting in California Aims to Ease Drought Problems

Collecting rain water from your rooftop and safely storing it for later use is an ideal way to save both money and water. Rain harvesting in California is especially important. For the past four years, the state has suffered from the most severe drought on record.

Prior to the Rainwater Recapture Act of 2012, general rain harvesting in California was not allowed. Individuals could apply for a rain-collecting permit, but the logistics involved often discouraged interested homeowners.

Now, California authorities want to cut the per capita use of potable water by at least 20 percent by Dec. 31, 2020, and rain harvesting is critical to achieving that goal. Many state residents are now harvesting rain, often using one or more 50-gallon plastic barrels.

“Simply attach a garden hose to the barrel and rely on gravity to provide enough pressure to move the water from the barrel to your garden,” said Steven Sweeney, CEO of Rain Harvesting Supplies, Inc., an online rainwater harvesting tank and supplies company. “No special water treatment is required when collecting rain for your landscape; however, people soon discover that a couple of 50-gallon plastic barrels stuck under a pair of downspouts have minimal impact on their personal water supply.”

Most rainwater collectors want to save each precious drop that falls from the sky. “For every 100 sq. ft. of roof of collection surface, a 1-inch rain will produce 60 gallons of water,” he said. “That means a 1-inch rain on a 1,000 sq. ft. roof can produce 600 gallons, an amount that would quickly fill up a several 50-gallon rain barrels.”

As a solution, many rain harvesting experts recommend installing a large, professional rain tank – metal or plastic – complete with a pump to provide adequate pressure when the water is needed. A rain water pump with a “first flush diverter” will redirect debris and pollutants that wash off the roof. By keeping pollutants out of the tank, you ensure that the stored rain stays fresh longer. Rain harvesting comes with its own special challenges. A larger tank (5,000 gallons or more) should be mounted properly by experienced professionals to prevent it from tipping over in the event of an earthquake. In addition, a mesh covering is necessary to keep out mosquitoes.

Some California municipalities may demand a zoning review if you plan to collect rain. Others may insist on electrical or plumbing permits before a large system (5,000 gallons or more) can be installed at a residence. If collected rain is to be used inside the house or for spray irrigation, additional permits and inspections may be required.

“Anyone planning to collect rain water in California should check local building codes and plumbing requirements before investing in a personal rain harvesting system,” Sweeney said.

In addition, citizens should remember other important water-saving tips that go beyond rain collection. Use water conservatively in the home, plant native species of shrubs and flowers, which require less water, and find and fix any plumbing problems that are wasting water and increasing the home’s water consumption.

About Rain Harvesting SuppliesWe are a leading supplier of rain water harvesting products and equipment. We have been helping rain water system professionals for the past 5 years. We stock thousands of rain harvesting products; rain water tanks, rain water pumps,rainwater filtration systems, plus thousands of other products. Whether you are looking for a rain collection system or rain harvesting filter, we can help. Please visit to learn more.

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