Rainwater Collection | A Natural Water System For Any Green Building

After living in northern New Mexico for 10 years it’s hard to forget the preciousness of water.  Before living there I knew to turn the water off when brushing, don’t water your lawn at noon, and save water however possible.  But, I didn’t really get real water conservation and especially had no concept of water independence.  We always had city water or a well that had been no issue to dig.

However, that’s not true for many properties in New Mexico and around the world.  Everyone needs water though right? One solution – rainwater collection.

Rainwater Collection is just what it sounds like.  Collecting rain water and storing it for use later.  It’s been done for centuries and is currently very popular in some arid places like the southwestern US, Brazil, China and elsewhere, as well as for people who are designing and building off grid homes like earthships and other types of green buildings.

Rain water harvesting systems are usually gutter systems that instead of emptying the water they catch from the roof into a location in your yard or into the street, they empty it into a holding tank.  At their most basic a rain water collection system could also be a 50 gallon drum or two set near the garden or the water tank for the livestock too.

Take a look at these examples of rain water collection systems for a better idea of what I’m talking about.

rain water collection system emptying into cistern
From Earthship Biotecture this is an image of gutters that will collect the rain water that falls onto the roof of this earthship and funnel it into this underground cistern that will store the water from storms for use within the home later.


rainwater collection system in backyard
This was the backyard of our first house in New Mexico. You can see that the roof empties water into the gutter that then runs into and down through that white pipe on the right of the image. From there it went into an underground cistern. It was amazing to watch it fill with one of those powerful high desert storms! We used the water we collected for everything except drinking.


rainwater collection system
A very nice, clean example of a rainwater harvesting system with the red pipe tucked up there collecting the water from the roof then channeling it into that cool red holding tank for storage.


rain water collection tank
an above ground cistern or rain water collection tank


homemade rainwater collection tank and system
Here's another example of a homemade rainwater collection system with several gutters and pipes feeding that orange holding tank.


Ready to incorporate rainwater collection into your green building?

It’s so easy.

Depending on your climate you may need to dig for your cistern if you plan to use it year round so it’s underground and safe from freezing temps.  Otherwise, it’s just gutters, some type of container to hold the water you collect, along with a way to release the water when you’re ready for it and you’ve got your very own rainwater collection system!

If you just want a small project, try setting up a system off your garage or barn for your garden.  If you like it go bigger!  It’s amazing how much water you can collect and what it can really save you, and the planet.



Nature Is Random…So Are These


2 thoughts on “Rainwater Collection | A Natural Water System For Any Green Building”

  1. Thanks for this post. Rainwater harvesting has to be included on a building for it to be considered green. We try to educate people all the time about the opportunities that rainwater collection provides. Not only does it supply additional water, it makes people think about adapting their landscaping to consume less water. Many of our clients use rainwater catchment systems to supply their whole house with water. Rainwater is a very clean source of water that requires a minimal amount of treatment (filtration and disinfection) before being consumed. Of course these potable systems employ very large cisterns, but it is possible for households to go off the “water grid”.

    1. Thanks for your comments Chris, and you’re so right. Not only do rainwater collection systems help get you water for your natural home and buildings, it helps you become more conscious of how you USE water.

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