Rainwater collection and storage


Alaska im told is a tough climate on people i bet i would look like an amateur survivalist there. My goal has always been 100% self sufficiency.

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Thats good information on pipe sizes. How big of a runoff catchment can a 15" pipe handle do you have a formula for that?
Yeah I am interested in eventual self sufficiency too. Water independence is pretty high on the list. :slight_smile:

Rationally speaking there is no such thing as 100% self sufficiency. You could accomplish something pretty near that but I would certainly do not want to live that life. The problem is that in chasing the fantasy people can actually make it worse not better.

Take for instance the whole house generators. Thank God they have been going down in price, you can find a 20k unit for around $6k where they used to be north of $15k. Even then; just the fuel alone makes your energy costs something truly ridiculous. We all operate with limited resources; squandering them like that buys us very little and robs us of everything else that needs to be done. And don’t even get me started with the $15k~25k cost of a solar panel roof…

If instead you build down (waaaaaaay down) your power consumption, switch all your lights to 12v LEDs, switch your computers and appliances to direct DC power (what your laptop uses, after wasting electricity on the power brick to convert it down), switch your heating/cooking/drying to natural gas, you suddenly find that you can power your entire house with a cheap generator that is a quarter of the size. Not only that but if the shit really hits the fan and fuel for your generator is not going to come back anytime soon, you’ll be able to live on your stores way longer than the guy with the 20k unit running his 220v electric clothes drier and oven.

Moral of the story: The cost per Kilowatt/h here is pretty expensive at .19c per KW/h, but this is still nothing compared to the cost of me running a generator, not even including the equipment wear and tear. I will happily and for the rest of my life live on the grid at those prices, because to me reliance is not in avoiding the grid; it is in being able to cope if it goes away. Grid power goes off? Switch to the generator, running off propane. Natural gas supply goes off? switch to the same propane source (propane pilot bits for the stove are on the drawer next to it) and to wood to heat the house. Law and order breaks down? Check with the well armed neighbors (64.5% of adults in Alaska live with a gun) to see how they want to respond. I bet you anybody we don’t recognize would not be welcome around so even there it pays not to be 100% self sufficient.



My point is if we rely on others we ultimately will get let down at times. If my goal is 100% self reliance then only i can let myself down. We will never get there but if everyone had the goal could you imagine how much easier things would be? People can have unrealistic expectations at times . I expect a lot out of me and i think everyday i push myself is what keeps me alive.


This is one of the rainy seasons in Kansas. Spring and fall have plenty of moisture here.


Find myself wondering why few people use hydroelectric power. One like this is available on eBay for $200. Everytime I ask most everyone says they don’t have running water. Everyone does have running water just they don’t harvest it for power. If your catching rainwater you have running water it’s just not all the time. Imagine a windmill that pumps water could also be making electricity. Just because Noone thought of generating power at the cattle water well does not mean we can’t. Not to oint out the obvious but what house does not have lots of water running in it everyday? You can catch that water at the main input as well. If you have a creek it does not mean the situation is necessarily better. Creeks push down serious debrees and a good flood could leave you without a pump.

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I’ve been concerned about a reliable water supply for a while. Without water there is nothing. After air (and carbon dioxide) water is the most vital thing. We are on a well and have really good water, but the potential grid issues were a big concern, so I got a solar well pump setup that won’t be installed until it’s needed. We had a rusted out cistern on about a 10’ platform that had just been an object 'd art for a bunch of years. We recently got the platform rebuilt and got a new 1000 gal cistern to put on it. We are putting gutters on our house and one of the barns and will connect them to cisterns as well. we have a good sized stock tank, but want to put in another one. When we replumbed the house we ran everything but the toilet out through a gray water line. I was going to trap that water for other uses, but I think I will just create a wet area for bog plants. D


On my property i have a nice well, a creek, a cistern and city water. The cistern is sketchy… frogs live in it but it stinks really bad. I think its at least 80 years old.

Last year i really wanted to tap into my well and use it as a resource. As a kid we lived on that well but every summer it dried up. It hasnt been used in 30 years. Hand dug and done right by old timers in the 1900s.

The cheapskate and recycler in me wanted to use IBC 275 gallon totes… I could easily transfer everything from the well into those totes every time it rained and let it replenish itself. I would have to buy a couple of pumps and deal with the eyesore of the totes… etc… but in the end i would have free water.

I decided to wait a year… and used my city water instead. To see if it was worth the work/effort and money to use my natural resources.

I think my bill went up $10 some months, and $20 a couple of months.

I dont experience drought much at all…and it does rain alot here… so for me it just didnt add up.

I learned last year that i think the French are studying roll and crimp grass management… and that they are finding that they need to irrigate 50percent less. Dont quote me on those facts but its somewhere in that ballpark. So this coming year i have nothing to lose but try it… in the past i have been bag mowing and composting… but maybe roll and crimp is better for soil moisture?

For my potted plants i have 55gallon barrels under my house gutters. I drill a hole in the bottom of the gutter that i can put a self tapper in if i change my mind… but during a good rain i can fill a 55 gallon barrel or two pretty easy.


Clark the simple answer is regulation… I will attempt to frame this comment as a historical and fact based one to avoid political inferences.

The US government decided in the 20th century (maybe earlier in some cases?} that building dams to harness “free” hydropower was a great idea. It was!!! The only problem is that they didn’t think about the harmful effects of WHERE they decided to locate the dams. Between displacing countless Native Americans from their ancestral grounds to destroying fragile ecosystems for the flora and fauna of the areas the dams were located, it turns out that many of the expensive dams they created may need to be (and have been) removed. This process has led to FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) forcing an excessively arduous process to allow hydropower to connect with the grid. This process is unique to hydropower compared with other renewable energy sources. It can take years of permitting to have even a small project approved, even if there is no dam and exemptions are requested for a small project size. For this reason, many viable hydropower projects are never considered.

If you don’t connect to the grid, it is much easier to create such a project as no federal oversight is needed to construct the system. That being said, a breaker could be installed which would allow access to the grid if the switch was flipped, and it would be perfectly legal to construct and run the system in that state and THEN decide that access to the grid might be beneficial, then apply for permitting which would likely be easier since the infrastructure already existed.

Side note: I will point out that it is absolutely illegal to connect a hydropower facility to the grid without proper permitting, on a federal level, as connection to the grid is considered interstate commerce and thus the federal government is able to regulate it.

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minus the Texas grid since that doesn’t cross state boarders, though you are still required to apply for permissions to put any kind of power back onto the grid (solar, wind, generators). If they find you doing it without, there are huge fines and jail time (not to mention you will have a greedy meter and be paying for every kw you put onto the grid).
@clarkinks , you mention that the device you pictured costs $200, but how much electricity does it produce? When i installed solar in 2019, i calculated 10 years 3 months to break even. So unless i am going 100% off grid, I need to balance cost of getting the whole thing set up vs production. I will say i have thought about what it would be like it if could put small turbines on my downspouts before it reaches my water tanks.


As noble of an idea as that is, I would advise against it unless as a fun hobby project to provide a little power to some motion activated lights or something non-critical. With a transient flow under low head pressure and minimal flow at that, you won’t be making enough power to do much.

The only conceivable way I could see getting a long term payback on an investment related to residential hydro would be installing some sort of in pipe generator on the utility side of your pressure regulator to capture the energy passing through your pipes.



Yes that’s what I’m talking about capture the main line power. It would be like using the benefit twice. Water + power

Heh, this reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in many years. I knew someone who knew someone who “supposedly” put an in-line generator on a main distribution line. While the city had the road dug up in front of his house installing new water lines. I suspect it was wishful thinking and didn’t actually happen… A fanciful story. If it did though, and was on the downhill gravity pushing side of a tank. Would it really hurt anything? Hmm…


The pressure into my house at the street is usually around 100 psi, and we step it down to 60 or so. Having 100 psi you could harness a lot of energy with the right design. Another way I’ve thought about it- what if you altered the pipe into your house to utilize that excess energy and reduce the pressure by installing a series of Pico-Hydro turbines which would negate the need for your pressure regulator by slowing down the water? It wouldn’t be a lot of power generated by each individual turbine, but combined it might take a few dollars off of your bill each month.

Serious question and interesting concept - Mining Bitcoin is clearly profitable enough that people do it while still paying for energy, I wonder if the amount of energy created by running water in this scenario would offset the cost of purchasing all of that water? I bet it could in certain parts of the world. You would have to already have net metering and a two way meter installed to make it all work though… If only everyone could get solar panels or something like that to make it all work out… :wink:


This was a very common wind water pump design in Kansas and it works but it’s wasteful

We know city water lines are similarly poorly designed. They are meant to pump water only.
This is a simple $11 device on amazon . Lets imagine if it was larger and on the main line. I’m not suggesting it would make lots of power but I’m saying water will come down our gutters or our water lines already.

Think about the drain pipe out flow https://growingfruit.org/t/ponds-are-a-great-investment/7033
Upon further research it appears the ideas have been proposed before to cities What is Hydropower in a Pipe? | AltEnergyMag

If you can figure out how much it will cost you per kWh to produce the electricity. There are plenty of calculators that can tell you your rate of return.

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I have two cisterns that are about 1,300 gallons each behind my garage. My garage roof drains into them. From the 1950’s through the 1980’s they irrigated half an acre of potatoes. Now they just keep my greenhouse watered. It’s amazing how quickly they will fill. Just one good thunderstorm and I have a couple feet of water in there.


In colder climates now is the time to start thinking of what to do with collected rainwater for the winter. Dump it, heat it, recirculate it etc. How Water Works | HowStuffWorks . I’m curious whats your solution for winter?
What we know about water is its essential for our survival

How Water Works

By: [Shanna Freeman](

Water is the essence of life. No living thing on Earth can survive long without it.

In its purest form, it’s odorless, nearly colorless and tasteless. It’s in your body, the [food] you eat and the beverages you drink. You use it to clean yourself, your clothes, your dishes, your [car] and everything else around you. You can travel on it or jump in it to cool off on hot summer days. Many of the products that you use every day contain it or were manufactured using it. All forms of life need it, and if they don’t get enough of it, they die. Political disputes have centered around it. In some places, it’s treasured and incredibly difficult to get. In others, it’s incredibly easy to get and then squandered. What substance is more necessary to our existence than any other? Water.

At its most basic, water is a molecule with one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, bonded together by shared electrons. It is a V-shaped polar molecule, which means that it’s charged positively near the hydrogen atoms and negatively near the oxygen atom. Water molecules are naturally attracted and stick to each other because of this polarity, forming a hydrogen bond. This hydrogen bond is the reason behind many of water’s special properties, such as the fact that it’s denser in its liquid state than in its solid state (ice floats on water). We’ll look closer at these special properties later.

Water is the only substance that occurs naturally as a solid (ice), a liquid and a gas (water vapor). It covers about 70 percent of the earth for a total of approximately 332.5 million cubic miles (1,386 million cubic kilometers) [source: U.S. Geological Survey]. If you’re familiar with the lines “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink” from the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” you’ll understand that most of this water – 97 percent of it – is undrinkable because it’s saltwater (see illustration on next page). Only 3 percent of the world’s water supply is freshwater, and 77 percent of that is frozen. Of the 23 percent that is not frozen, only a half a percent is available to supply every plant, animal and person on Earth with all the water they need to survive [source: National Geographic].

So water is pretty simple, right? Actually, there ar­e a lot of things about it that scientists still don’t fully understand. And the problem of making sure that enough clean, drinkable water is available to everyone and everything that needs it is anything but simple. In this article, we’ll look at some of these problems. We’ll also explore exactly what plants, animals and people do with water and learn more about what makes water so special.­

So why dont community water tanks freeze in cold climates? Why don't water towers freeze solid in the winter? | HowStuffWorks

Why don’t water towers freeze solid in the winter?

Many people who read How Water Towers Work have the following question: “Why, in a place like Montana or North Dakota, do water towers not freeze solid in the winter?” To answer this question, we need an expert. Malcolm Jackson is the Business Development Manager for the tank maintenance company Utility Service Co., Inc. The company has home offices in Perry, GA, and has thousands of elevated tanks under full-service maintenance contracts in 17 states.

Here is Malcolm’s answer to the question:

They do freeze. They just don’t normally freeze solid.

In the more extreme climates, like North Dakota, engineers incorporate heating systems into the tank design. Specifically, the central pipe that runs from ground level up into the bottom of the tank is called a riser. Water is pumped into the base of the riser and allowed to rise into the tank. Many tank risers are wrapped with heat tape, covered with insulation and capped by an aluminum jacket. In addition, a heating system may be installed in an adjacent building or into the valve pit underneath the riser. The heater introduces heated water or steam into the base of the riser. In either case, the heat rises into the tank to retard freezing.

Ice forms on the surface of the contents, in many cases several feet thick. Normally, this ice layer floats on the surface as the water level rises and falls. Many times the ice freezes to the roof or upper walls of the tank and remains there as the level fluctuates underneath under daily usage.

In more temperate climates, steel ladders are installed inside the tank, and riser and water level control probes hang from the roof. In colder climates, all inside fixtures must be left out since the ice layer tends to rip them out.

Thanks, Malcolm!


Those cisterns sound really good! The more i know the more i think most of us are not very well prepared for outages and disasters. Im working on educating myself on alternative electricity and am convinced survival should be as important of a suject as math at least. Im going to say as prepared for life as what i thought i was im not even to this day as prepared as i need to be.