I generally believe that “free” is better than “costs money.” I really like “free” when it’s going to be handed to me with no effort on my part. Rainwater is free. Tap water costs money. Twice. It costs when you get it and you pay for sewage when it goes away. It’s going to cost more as time goes by. Population growth and nationwide drought means we don’t always have all the water we need. Water is becoming hard to get and “hard to get” always means “expensive.”
As water becomes scarcer, regulations on its use will increase. If you want to know where your water regulations are heading, check out San Antonio, Texas or Santa Fe, New Mexico. They are hurting for water. Examples are: you may not wash your car more than once a month; you may not use water to clean your driveway or patio, no fountain or waterfalls in any landscaping, indoors or out. Only water your lawn once a week. More and more restrictions are being established to make sure there is enough water for survival. Survival does not mean washing your car or filling your swimming pool. And it doesn’t mean watering your garden.
Back to rain. Rain does a very good job of watering your yard and your garden. Besides the fact that it is free, it is also pretty clean. Tap water has all kinds of chemicals your plants don’t want or need. Rain is soft water, readily absorbed by your plants. No iron deposits to stain, no calcium build up, just water.
Just because it is raining doesn’t mean you are using it. Rain falls on your house at the rate of about a half gallon of water per square foot of roof area during a 1-inch rainfall. If you have a 2,000 square foot roof you can collect around 1,000 to 1,200 gallons of water. What do you pay now for 1,000 gallons of water? Why are you giving it all away?
Rain barrels collect water from your downspouts and put it where you can use it. Most residential rain barrels hold around 50 gallons. They have faucets for your water hose and can be linked together to increase capacity. They come in numerous colors and designs to blend into your landscaping. Put one in your front yard, one in your back and one in the garden. If you figure you need to have ½” of water to irrigate your garden then 50 gallons can irrigate about 160 square feet at a time. With no time/day restrictions.
Ok, it’s zombie time. For many people, “zombies” is short hand for TEOTWAWKI. That stands for The End Of The World As We Know It. You know: civilization collapses, you have no electricity, no running water, no cell phone, nuthin’. Your world just fell apart around you.
It doesn’t take a deadly mutant virus to cause this. Hurricanes will. Earthquakes will. Wild fires will. Don’t forget tornadoes. All of these can bring your normal world to a screaming halt. All of these can leave you without a domestic water supply.
Besides watering plants, water from rain barrels can be used to flush toilets, wash your hands, clean counters, furniture and floors, top off your car radiator, and, if really desperate, wash your clothes. You’ll be surprised at how useful 100 gallons of water can be when your water supply is cut off.
The water from a rain barrel is better for your plants, it’s free and it’s not subject to watering restrictions for time or day. And it’s zombie proof. That’s a hard combination to beat.