Catching the Rain

So Florida is the land of sunshine but, unfortunately, many droughts as well.  Currently, we are under a severe drought with only slight chances of rain on the horizon.  You can check your area at the drought monitor from the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, NE.

We have a well with wonderful water but as careful stewards of the earth’s bounty, we recycle the rain that does fall with carefully managed rain gutters and barrels.  This rain water is used to water our animals and gardens.

Have you noticed a difference between watering your garden with a hose and the soaking from a good rain? Same amount of water but when it is rain water, the garden really seems to flourish.  According to Meterologist David R. Cook,

“Rain water normally is more nutritious than ground water.  Rainwater contains nitrogen-bearing molecules, partially a result of air pollutants scavenged from the air by raindrops, but more often a result of nitrogen oxides produced by lightning.  Nitrogen is an important natural fertilizer for the soil.  Therefore, rain from thunderstorms tends to be the most nutritious rain.  Soil tends to strip nitrogen and other “chemicals” from rainwater as it percolates through the soil.  Thus, the water that accumulates in the ground as groundwater can vary from being somewhat to mostly depleted of nutrition.”

Interesting.  It may be that rain water, though possibly contaminated from the pollution in our air, may have more punch!  I am not recommending you drink or bathe in it without treating it, though, in emergency conditions it could be very valuable.  There are so many possible contaminants, not just pollution but bird droppings and things that can grow on a roof, like algae, moss etc.

When I lived in the mountains of Puerto Rico, we had a cistern that was built into the mountain.  We treated it with chlorine and found it to be very soft and clean.  I did purchase drinking water but had no problem using the cistern water for showers.  I had wonderful white sheets washed in that treated rain water.  Later, when living on a small hobby farm in Pennsylvania, we invested in a cement box meant to be used as a septic tank and buried it level to the ground to use as a cistern for watering animals.

You need to either have your barrels covered (preferably) or a bit of oil.  The barrels of water for the animals is treated with olive oil and if the animals get some, all the better.  If it is not covered, contamination and breeding of mosquitoes is likely.  Barrels can be set up in a chain of two or more to catch even more water.  Our barrels are up on stilts to make use of gravity.  Of course, I don’t have to say that the barrels must be food grade and not used for chemicals if purchased used.



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6 Comments on "Catching the Rain"

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  1. Leonard Anderson says:

    I am curious if you have a food grade barrel of 70 gallons how good is the water untreated? Should you use clorine, bleach or Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets?

  2. judy says:

    where do you purchase the barrels. local or internet//
    thx for the info

    • Sandy says:

      Put in a search with …used barrels, your county, your state. Our local water management and county agents are pushing these right now. We got ours from a yardsale and a friend who picks them up from orange juice companies.

    • Suzy says:

      I found some GREAT rain barrels on Craigslist, believe it or not. They are food-grade and have never been used with any chemicals, oils or contaminents. My rain barrel cost me only $35, and I got a few 55 gallon food-grade barrels for only $20/each. I am very happy with my purchases, and would recommend you look on Craigslist (in your area) to see if you can find similar deals. Why buy new when we can recycle too. :)

  3. There are tests on the market to check well water for heavy metals and contaminants. The problem in storing water above ground is that it can be exposed to sunlight and that encourages algae growth. You could boil the water at a hard boil for one minute but there is still the chance that there is pollution that came in with the rain. Lifestraws and other treatments could render it safe to drink. Well water was often originally rain but it has percolated through layers of sand and soil, natures water treatment system.

  4. Recently came across a nice rainwater harvesting video that might prove interesting.

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