Rainwater Harvesting – Rainwater Collection System for Under $100

Over the last couple of years, my family and I have planted several new trees, including some fruit trees, a pretty good-sized garden, and a whole bunch of blueberry bushes around our house. As you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of water to keep all those trees and plants properly hydrated to ensure that they grow up big and strong and produce abundant fruit. To help reduce our water bill for the hot summer months ahead as well as make use of the bountiful resources that God provides through nature, I decided to rig up a rainwater collection system in my backyard. It was super easy to do, I had it up and operating in about an hour, and when it was all said and done, it cost me less than one hundred bucks to get it all going. In this blog and video, I’ll share with you an overview of the project to hopefully inspire you to do something similar yourself.

Why Harvest Rainwater?

Many homeowners don’t realize that every time a good rain shower comes their way hundreds of gallons of water come off of their roof and flow out onto the ground or simply go down the drain. Meanwhile, depending on where you live, you can get hit with a very expensive bill each month for using that same amount of water, or far less, for doing things like watering your lawn or your garden. Thus, many homeowners across the land have begun harvesting rainwater to use for utility purposes, or to store as emergency drinking water, which does require the extra step of using a filter system such as a Berkey water filter. In fact, many folks who live off-grid in places like the Alaskan bush use rain, nearby creeks, rivers, or lakes as their primary water sources and then run it through a Berkey water filter or similar systems.

But no matter where you live, don’t forget that in the event of a disaster or survival situation where resources are limited, clean water is the most important thing you’ll need, besides air and adequate shelter. While so many people tend to focus on storing up tons of food or even guns and ammo for a survival scenario, you’ll be dead in about 3 days if you don’t have clean water to drink, whereas you can go for 3 weeks or more without food. So no matter if you want to harvest rainwater for the garden or for your family to drink, a rainwater collection system is very easy to set up and use. Here’s an overview of the one I made to give you some ideas.

Rainwater Collection System Overview

I set up my rainwater collection system in the backyard under a relatively small tin roof that covers a patio area. It has a gutter downspout on each side where I set up my collection barrels. I bought two 55-gallon drums that had spigots attached for $50 from someone in the area who had several on hand that they were selling. You can buy these new for around $80 – $90 apiece, (or significantly more!) but I’d be willing to bet that you can find plenty of used ones in your area on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, or other online marketplaces that will work just fine and for a very reasonable price. But very important though, be sure that the ones you buy didn’t have any fuel or toxic chemicals in them.

After getting my barrels and washing them out good, I set up an elevated stand for each one so I can get buckets under them to easily fill up as well as to better utilize gravity when attaching a hose. I was originally going to build my stand from some treated lumber, which is very expensive at the moment, so I decided on some cinder blocks instead, which cost me less than two bucks apiece. The ground was a little uneven where I set up my stands, so I used some gravel to level things up and simply put a couple of scrap boards across the blocks.

The next step was to rig up the flow of water to each barrel, so I cut the downspouts off a few feet above each drum and attached some flexible downspout sections with some zip ties and sheet metal screws, all of which cost me about $25.00 total. Another important step was to make sure that big leaves and debris didn’t get into my drums and clog up the spigot, so I devised a simple filter system by cutting sections of gutter screen to fit inside the holes on the top of the drums where the water goes. And that’s basically it for the whole system. It cost me a grand total of around $95.00 and took me no more than an hour or so to set up.

Now if you live in an area where you’re prone to flooding and torrential downpours on a regular basis, you may want to have an overflow drum or two standing by, or simply have some gutter and drain attachments handy with which you can divert water away from your house after your drums are filled. After it’s all rigged up, simply wait for the rain. One good rainstorm filled up both my barrels in an hour or two, which came to 110 gallons of free water to use for my garden immediately.

Check out the video below to see more!