It has been used since ancient times all over the world, and today in Canada, rainwater harvesting is becoming more widely used in residential, agricultural, and commercial buildings. Rainwater is the accumulation and deposition of rainwater for reuse on-site, rather than allowing it to run off. It is an efficient and economical method to use at your home.

Rain harvesting systems capture, store, treat and deliver rain for use in daily watering needs. Harvested rain can be used outdoors for irrigation, gardening, washing vehicles, filling up children’s outdoor water toys and swimming pools, and water for livestock; indoors for toilet flushing, laundry, cleaning floors and if filtered, as drinking water. Simple harvesting systems consist of rain barrels that collect roof runoff for outdoor use. You can install rain barrels at the downspouts of your eaves troughs. Always make sure it has a secured lid to prevent children and animals from getting in as well as breeding mosquitoes and contamination. Also to make things easier when taking water out, position the barrel high enough to be able to place a bucket or watering can beneath the tap.

There are also more complex pumped systems that involve large above-ground or buried cisterns that store water collected from the roof. This water is then plumbed into the house, either as a replacement or supplement to the standard municipal water supply.

One of the main purposes of rain harvesting is to conserve and reduce water demand. Reusing water saves considerable amounts of energy, because lots of electricity is used on community water pumping and treatment. It also allows you to store water to use in times of low water availability like in droughts or water bans. This can also save you money on your household water bills.

For a very small investment of time and materials you can collect hundreds of litres of free water every year, while helping out the environment. You’ll feel good about harvesting rainfall to help use less water and allow yourself to use this natural and free resource.