Nov 23

Rainwater Harvesting FAQs, Tips and Resources

I’m currently working on my tertiary plan for obtaining potable water if T-SHTF.  My first option is to rely on the municipal water supply, I figure unless things get ridiculously bad it should still remain at least partially functional.  My second option will be to purify (filter, boil) water that I can source from a local river which is 1/2 mile away, or a large pond which is about 1/4 mile away.  Realizing that redundancy is critical in any planning process I have started looking at rainwater harvesting.  I cannot sit here and relate countless rainwater harvesting factoids from memory as I have yet to collect a drop for personal consumption.  However what I can share with you is all of the information I have found through the efforts of my research.  If you are considering rainwater harvesting as a viable post SHTF water option, take a look at all of the information listed below.  Remember that water is one of the most important considerations when formulating any prepper strategy.

A few of the advantages and disadvantages to consider before you get started.

Advantages of rainwater harvesting

  • Relatively cheap materials can be used for construction of containers and collecting surfaces
  • Construction methods are relatively straightforward
  • Low maintenance costs and requirements
  • Collected rainwater can be consumed without treatment providing a clean collecting surface has been used
  • Provides a supply of safe water close to homes, schools or clinics, encourages increased consumption, reduces the time [men] women and children spend collecting water, reduces back strain or injuries from carrying heavy water containers

Disadvantages of rainwater harvesting

  • Supplies can be contaminated by bird/animal droppings on catchment surfaces and guttering structures unless they are cleaned/flushed before use
  • Poorly constructed water jars/containers can suffer from algal growth and invasion by insects, lizards and rodents.
  • They can act as a breeding ground for disease vectors if they are not properly maintained

Rainwater Harvesting Basic Information

Texas Water Development Board FAQ sheet.  Basic explanation, where to get equipment, is it safe to drink, limitations and benefits etc.

Rainwater Harvesting and Purification System.  Step by step instructions to include materials used, cost and other details.  Documented by an individual living in Oregon.

Rainwater Harvesting Information. Provided by the city of San Diego to include basic information, components, safety considerations and more.

Rainbarrels 101: What is a Rainbarrel?   Explanation of the basics, the advantages and how much water can be saved.

10 Steps to Rainwater Harvesting Sustainable Water.   A good PDF document which you can print out and use as a reference.

How to make a Rainwater barrel

Rainbarrel Tutorial: How to make a Rain Barrel 

Harvesting Rainwater: How to Make a Rain Barrel

Rainwater Calculators

RWH Calculator 1

RWH Calculator 2

RWH Calculator 3

Rainwater Harvesting Supplies

Rainwater collection equipment from

Rainwater collection equipment on

Rainwater Harvesting Books

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

YouTube Videos worth watching


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    • silver on November 24, 2012 at 6:46 AM
    • Reply

    Rain water is not safe to drink unless you can filter out dust, acid,smoke,radioactive dust, and what ever factories in the east pump into the air, maybe 50 years ago it would have been ok to drink but not today.

      • PJ on November 24, 2012 at 8:31 AM
      • Reply

      I agree that there would definitely have to be some filtration/purification involved.

    • Abe Connally on November 24, 2012 at 11:19 AM
    • Reply

    Here’s a description of how to build a 6000 gallon rainwater tank:

      • PJ on November 24, 2012 at 4:09 PM
      • Reply

      Good stuff Abe, thanks for the link.

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