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rainwater harvesting, runoff, architect-on-demand, advice-without-strings

I am working on a project, in the scope of which we have to address rainwater runoff from the new roof. My client suggested using rainwater harvesting tanks.

She sent me a link. The picture is deceiving. Looking at the dimensions, I realize these things are huge! 530-gallon monstrosity, more than a foot taller than me! What else is available out there? Well, there’s a slim, more attractive version; it might be unaffordable to ship from Australia, though.

If the idea is to connect to a toilet or a washing machine, a system of pipes for a harvested water supply will need to be installed. Besides, each of the tanks has to be equipped with a pump.

Of course, there’s a need for additional (backup) piping that can cut in if the rainwater harvesting tanks run dry.

Which can happen if we have low rainfall. Thus, before making such a big investment, we have to address the following questions:

  • How do we envision using these rainwater harvesting tanks?
  • Where will the saved water be used?
  • Do we see those holding tanks buried underground or descreetely located at the side of the house?
  • Are they fed by the gutters surrounding the house as well as by the new roof?

My client had imagined the rainwater runoff barrels above ground (less expensive). According to her, it is easy to affix a hose to one and use it to water the garden. She wrote: “If you think these rainwater harvesting tanks are ugly, we could consider going another way, but we can’t leave out some system for capturing the water that falls on the new roof.”

Yes, they are unattractive, but these rainwater runoff barrels have ecological benefits.

One of the ecological benefits of a rainwater harvesting system is that it reduces the load on a drainage system. By channeling the runoff water into tanks for recycling, it minimizes the danger of flooding

A roof of a building becomes a catchment area, which during a rainstorm is capable of collecting a large amount of water efficiently. That, in turn, prevents soil erosion surrounding the property.

Clearly, there are pros and cons. We’ll keep thinking. I wish these harvesting tanks were not so unsightly. We might just have to come up with a method of screening them. Or, there might be another way of addressing rainwater runoff altogether. Do you have a good solution? Your thoughts are welcome, please write to me here.


  • August 26, 2017

    My neighbors found an attractive solution! see attached

    • Alla DIY Ally
      September 10, 2017

      Irochka!! Thank you very much for sending the pic!!

  • August 30, 2017


    I was surprised how quickly this topic (rainwater harvesting) became controversial. It would appear that a well-engineered system would include a very large cistern with sufficient capacity to store virtually all the rain water that falls on the roof. On the other hand, a small low cost DIY system may be a good way for your client to gain experience using this type of system.



    • Alla DIY Ally
      August 30, 2017

      Thank you so much for the link, Bob!!

    • September 6, 2017


      Did you and your client find an attractive rainwater harvesting system solution?


      • Alla DIY Ally
        September 6, 2017

        Bob, thank you for following up.
        We’re are in the process of getting the project approved at the building department. We will revisit the issue during the construction phase.

  • Mia S Kazovsky
    September 10, 2017

    On one hand, you might think that rainwater runoff solutions are not necessary, especially in California, but that is just not the case. If current weather events have taught us anything in these past few weeks, it’s that being prepared for the worst case scenario is critical. The devastation in Texas was made even greater AFTER the hurricane because of an outdated reservoir system!

    • Alla DIY Ally
      September 10, 2017

      Thinking things through is ALWAYS a good idea!

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