Spring is the season for rain and with this increase in precipitation, runoff and, in some cases, flooding. One way to reduce the risks of flooding from runoff is repurposing rainwater for irrigation or to supplement your home outdoor water needs. Typically, this only takes a few tools and some effort and creativity. Rainwater is pure as it falls from clouds, but picks up contaminants as it falls to the ground, so using it for drinking water is out unless you plan on treating it.
The water is, however, perfectly good for irrigation purposes and helps lessen the impact of runoff on city streets and gutter. Collecting and supplementing rainwater for summer watering needs can even help you save on monthly utilities and reduce demand on local water supplies. Here are a few effective ways to repurpose water runoff from gutters.
Rain chains are decorative and practical ways of dealing with water runoff from the gutters. The chain is attached along the edge of the roof where the gutter meets the soffit and runs from the gutter to the ground. The chain has a series of small cups with holes or slots to collect water and allow it to slowly drain down the chain and to the ground. As water runs through the gutters, rain chains can help divert water from the foundation. You can install rain chains strategically so water runs into vegetated areas or rain gardens so the water is not wasted. Of course, rain chains are also aesthetically pleasing decorations for the house.
For collecting and storing rainwater for future use, rain barrels are the answer. The rain barrel sits beneath the gutters underneath the roof to collect the water runoff from the roof and gutters. This water should only be used for irrigation purposes and not drinking–unless in an emergency and only after being filtered. When installing a rain barrel, make sure you keep the gutters clean and free of debris and keep the barrel covered when full. Contaminants will be present in the water, so when you water vegetables and other plants, try to water them close to the soil to prevent contaminating the edible portions. Also, thoroughly wash all vegetables before consuming. Overall, these barrels can be a great way to repurpose rainwater.
A garden and a yard high in foliage is one of the best ways to ‘use’ rainwater. Native plants and trees are the best ways to purpose rainwater in your yard. Grass tends to absorb water slowly, so consider planting water retaining plants and trees if you get a lot of rain. Trees have extensive root systems that absorb and retain large quantities of water very efficiently. You also stand to save on irrigation utility costs by repurposing rainwater for outdoor irrigation.