Lately it has been more and more difficult to predict what the weather will be like. Some days, it is raining so hard that floods become the end result, while in another part of the globe drought has set in. With this unpredictable state of nature, it is important to have basic water necessities stable and ensured.

Rain water harvesting in Burkina Faso © by Sustainable sanitation

For generations, rain water harvesting has been used to provide water for drinking, irrigation, livestock and all other uses for water. It is an economical and environmentally safe way to collect water for daily life. For those areas that do not receive regular water from the government, rain water collection is their only source for safe water.

Those from the more urban areas may ask, what is rain water harvesting? Though not usually seen in commercial districts, this method of collecting water is actually prevalent around the globe. It is the process of accumulating and storing rainwater for reuse.

There are two rain water harvesting methods. There is the traditional and the modern ways of incorporating this process. The traditional methods are usually done for individual houses as opposed to the contemporary systems, which are done for a bigger area. More and more places in the United States and around the world have been developing their own rain harvesting system to take advantage of the sustainability of this method of collecting water.

A rainwater harvesting tank system is mainly composed of three parts. The first is the catchment area. This is where the rain water gets caught. There are rooftop catchments and land surface catchments. Both utilize the natural run off of the rain so no extra contraptions are needed. For rooftop catchments, the amount of water that can be collected depends on the size and material of the roof. Coatings are not recommended as they might contaminate the water. Regular cleaning should also be followed to remove leaves, dust, bird droppings, etc. Land surface catchments are more suitable for agricultural purposes since it can collect more water but the quality may not be as good as the previous kind.

Rain water need not be wasted with simple rain water harvesting methods.  Rain water harvesting © by Sustainable sanitation


The next part of the harvesting system is the collection devices. These are the storage tanks or rainfall water containers that will collect the water from the catchment areas. The storage containers should be kept closed and free from possible contaminants. A household can opt for one large storage tank or a group of battery tanks, which are interconnected containers.

The final part is the conveyance systems. This part is mostly composed of pipes that get the water from the catchment to the storage area. There are many types of conveyance systems as well but the down-pipe flap is frequently used because it can ensure quality water. This system allows the initial rainfall to be separated from the cleaner water that can only come from the rain a little later on. Though operated manually, this is the best system for drinking water.

Rainfall harvesting is not a complicated system to adapt to any home. As long as the three main components are present and working fine, then collecting water from the rain would be simple. For those who have little experience with irrigation systems, there are a lot of manuals available online and in bookstores. For the more adventurous and creative minds, the construction of this water collection system can be done over the weekend.