Monday, March 17, 2014

Rainwater Collection

A few months ago, we used the last of the "city water" from our tank and pumped in 100% rainwater.  We were having water trucked in 2000 gallons at a time.  When our last tank of purchased water went dry it was time for the big switch to rainwater.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that the water we are drinking is pure and clean.  Our four year old daughter would tell me the water tasted funny when I served her a glass of city water.  That is scary!  

This is how we are catching the water falling from the sky:
Our studio building is corrugated - super corrugated -which made putting a gutter on it rather difficult.   

So Jim Bob made a template to bring the inner corrugation out to the gutter.

He used the template to cut and bend the flashing to fit up into the building.

There were 20 pieces of flashing to cut and bend.

Once it starts raining, the water flows off the building into the gutter then into the 4" PVC.  

There are three drains along 40 foot gutter.

This is the far left drain.

The center drain.

Then the right side drain that sends all the water to the roof washer and then into the 55 gallon drum.    

This is a good shot of the bent flashing, the pvc and the drain holes.

Since our gutter is so close to the ground, we had to let the water collect into a drum that was buried in the ground. The screened box stops debris from entering into the 55 gallon drum - just another part of the filtration system.

In order to get the water out of the drum, we are using a transfer pump with a float switch.  

When it rains the water flows into the drum, makes the switch float float which turns on the pump and transfers the water out of the drum, through the pump, down the 1 1/2" poly pipe and all the way over to the tank. Viola!

We also have a cover that catches water.

When it rains the water flows into the gutter, out the drain and into the roof washer.

This is a screen over the PVC to stop the big debris from entering into our tanks.  The roof washer catches the first 15 gallons or so - probably not enough but it's a start - of dirty water off of the roof.  

This was a really cool trick.  JB wishes he had come up with it but he didn't.  While researching roof washers he came across a guy who had done it but could never find the site again.   He bought a 1/2" NPT tap on ebay for about $4.50.  He drilled a hole in the PVC and then tapped it, put a little teflon tape on the boiler valve and screwed it in.  Simple and clean and works like a dream.  We use the water out of the roof washer to water plants and to wet down sand for sand castles in the sand box.

Once the roof washer fills up, the water overflows into the 4" PVC pipe and flows into the tank.  Once this tank is full, we are pumping the water into the tank by the bus.  Soon, we will have a cover over the bus and will be able to catch that water into those tanks and won't need to transfer water from tank to tank.  That will be AWESOME.

We are storing our water for long periods of time.  With that in mind, we knew we needed to filter the rainwater.  So after the screens and roof washer, the water goes through a sediment filter and then a carbon block filter.

It then flows through a UV light that kills any harmful pathogens that are remaining in the water.  It is then pumped into the bus for us to enjoy!  The water is crazy soft.  You can actually feel the water on your skin - it has substance or something.  It tastes so clean and yummy too.  It is Lena Marie approved!  


  1. Hi, just wondering how you all are doing? Do you have any plans for soap from the goats milk?

  2. Hi Kate!

    All is well on the farm! We have had lots of rain here and hooked up one more rainwater storage tank to handle it all. All the animals are thriving. The chickens are especially loving this grasshopper time of year. I am watching them now - darting around trying to catch those pesky insects.

    I do have plans for goat milk soap. I am waiting patiently for the girls to have some kids so I can get my hands on some of their milk. I have never made goat milk soap before but I am looking forward to figuring it all out! Do you know how to make soap?


  3. Very nice! I'm hoping to rig up some rainwater collecting on our bus. I was checking out the beginning of your adventure--looks like we have similar buses!
    Right now I'm trying to figure out how to get the hoses detached so I can remove the floor heater. I remember reading that it was quite a chore for Jim Bob too!

    Thank you for sharing your adventure. If you'd like to check out our adventure, our blog is on wordpress:

    I'm still deciding on flooring right now. Also, the previous owner had cut holes into it for a water heater and a toilet (guess he never heard of composting!), and just kinda slapped the things in there. Gotta seal those up and whatnot. Wish I had a Jim Bob around for advice!

    1. Checked out your site and you gals look busy! That is awesome. I hope it is coming along for ya! Keep us posted on your progress and I bet JB wouldn't mind passing on advice...send us an email!