R122: Rain Barrel

Still nurturing this contemplative mood and thinking of lots of ways people might survive the coming system breakdowns wrought by climate change, infrastructure degradation, privitization and other scenerios of uncertainty. Water will become more and more precious. Capturing rainwater is something long overdue in my area of the country, Southern California. Yet another key element for a sustainable life and a pretty cool thing to know how to do.

Even with a tiny mobile home add-on roof of a collecting (or “catchment”) area of 100 sf, with a gutter and barrel and an pitiful So. California average annual rainfall of 15 inches, I could have the potential to collect 1,800 gallons of water annually—the equivalent to the water use of a family in a developing country in a year.

These instructions seem easy enough to follow. I have homework to do to find a free source for barrels made of food grade plastic. I confess that I would prefer this beautiful alternative here, but $199 is just not possible for me. For those who can afford them, this is the link.

The other water saving product I would like on my dream list is this Olla from Peddler’s Wagon.

Olla (Oy-ya) 'Pumpkin'

An ancient watering technique that conserves and delivers water directly to the roots.
The use of buried earthen jars for watering plants has been used for thousands of years. The hand-thrown unglazed pot is buried neck deep into the soil, fill the pot with water and it slowly seeps into the soil to be absorbed by surrounding plants (not for use around wood plants such as shrubs and trees) Designed from nature, handmade in the USA. Sizes are 1.5 gallon, 1 gallon, 3/4 gallon or 1/2 gallon.

A greywater conversion kit for the kitchen sink and the shower . . . the list goes on.

Update: Forgot to credit Scream to be Green for the video link.


Rosa said...

Water barrels are on our list, too - we had some makeshift ones made out of big garbage cans, but they were not toddler safe so they had to go.

I keep thinking I should make myself some ollas - I know a place where I could pay for firing time, and they look like you could coil-build them.

The U I went to did a wood-fired pottery course that involved the students building a giant kiln from unmortared brick and then firing it & tending it as a team. It's not very energy efficient but the finish is beautiful and the process is beautiful - going by there at night, seeing the hulking partly-lit hogan-shaped kiln with the red fire openings and dark figures carrying wood to it was just amazing.

LisaZ said...

I found my 55 gal. barrels from the hospital's laundry dept. a couple of weeks ago. They had laundry detergent in them so needed to be rinsed well, but for all that rinsing water I figure I'll have years and years of catching free rain water.

Found you through Step Wise, Susan's blog, but I think you were in the Riot for Austerity? Am I right? Your name is familiar...

Lisa Z in MN

katecontinued said...

Rosa, thank you for the image for my mind. That is the kind of thing that stirs me. I struggle with keeping at community type activity, but that team work of the kiln is brilliant example why it is worthwhile. I love your idea of doing it yourself.

I live really close to Mexico. I just can't believe that clay pots in this shape aren't all over the place. I just don't shop, so I don't know my locale.

katecontinued said...

Lisa Z, I thought I would be more actively involved in Riot for Austeriety, but I found I am not record keeping in this way. I suspect we are reading the same blogs and I tend to comment.

Since my themes are also feminist, progressive - I don't catch a lot of the sustainability people for regulars.

I am glad you stopped in to check it out. That is a really good tip about the hospital.

Raw Food Diva said...

I wonder if old water heaters could be used for rain catchers....

katecontinued said...

What a good idea. I can't imagine why not and they have the valve at the bottom and a input whole that could be enlarged or modified. Good thinking.

Anonymous said...

The water barrel my design-conscious friend made (I don't know if he made up the design or was taught it) had the top hole the food-safe barrel came with, and then above it a big bright-colored funnel cut off and caulked to the barrel, with screen at the top and bottom.

So the water is going in the same size hole but if the flow is too fast the funnel makes temporary storage space.

And the small input hole means little kids and critters can't accidentally drown in it.

katecontinued said...

Neat. I love that it would have an interesting profile. I need to remember this.

Chile said...

We picked up 55 gallon plastic barrels from the local bottling plant. The soda syrup had to be washed out thoroughly, but the food-grade plastic should work well. Go for opaque, though, to minimize algal growth. (Ours are blue.)