Fredericksburg SHINES

Leading the Way in Sustainability

Collecting Rainwater (Getting Started)

Living in the Texas Hill Country, you know the importance of rain. Why continue to let what precious rain you do receive, do nothing more than rush down the gutter to create a hole in the soil next to your house? Collect that water for a more sensible and sustainable use.

Also considering donating rain barrels to a local school, church, or non-profit.   Rain barrels have already been donated to Holy Ghost Lutheran youth auction, Holy Ghost Lutheran Church community garden and St. Mary’s Catholic School, both located in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Find out more about rainwater collection and rain barrels:


You really do get plenty of rain

It’s amazing how much water can be saved in the Hill Country each year, even during times of extended drought. Eighty-four days is the average number of days each year Central Texas receives over 0.1 inches of rain. Fredericksburg’s magic number is 72 days. Although that amount of rain and number of days seem relatively small, the amount of water you could collect may surprise you.

On average, a 900 ft2 roof (with gutters sized for catching maximum rainfall) yields over 560 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall, or 56 gallons for every 0.1 inches. To determine how much water you can save, simply multiply the capacity of your rain barrel (55 gallons) by the average number of times each year, you receive enough rain to fill your barrel (72 days for Fredericksburg residents, 84 for Austin residents).

Fredericksburg: 55 gallons x 72 days = 3,960 gallons saved

Austin: 55 x 84 = 4,620 gallons saved

Furthermore, guttering requirements to fill one barrel would be minimal:    twelve feet of guttering is sufficient to  collect 67 gallons in an 1/4″ rainfall.    Some collectors have taken a totally different approach and, instead of utilize guttering they are  simply  capturing  water dripping from their outdoor air conditioning  runoff.

Here’s an exciting possibility:   According to Save our Texas, if every household in the state of Texas  began collecting  rainwater for their outdoor watering needs, 10 billion gallons of water would be released to recharge our aquifers, lakes, and rivers!

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Ways you can use rainwater

While rainwater will not be coming out of your sink faucet, it will be just as easy to use. There will be no dipping buckets or ladles into your barrel. All of our units have 2″ brass fittings and spigots that can be used as a faucet or easily connected to a hose (usually a soaker hose), making all of the following chores, just as easy as using city or well water:

  • Water (and improve the health of your) landscaping, garden, raised planter beds, and trees
  • Water your plants located indoors or in your greenhouse
  • Rinse out your compost and other buckets
  • Rinse the dirt from vegetables you grow in your garden
  • Wash your automobile or boat
  • Wash your bicycle
  • Wash your hands
  • Wash your hair with that soft Hill Country rainwater
  • Bathe your dog
  • Clean household windows
  • Wash out your camping and beach gear
  • Provide water for your livestock or wildlife (esp. birds and deer)
  • Fight fires (hope this is never needed!)
  • Use in household for toilet flushing, clothes washing, drinking and cooking (subject to local ordinances and filtration requirements)
  • Donate a rain barrel to your church or school for them to start watering their landscaping or food garden
  • Share with your business or residential neighbors!

Rain barrels are providing all the water needs for the Foeh’s raised bed gardens

“We love our rain barrels! We went with the double set up and were amazed at how quickly they filled up – one good thunderstorm. We have two raised bed gardens as well as various other plants and we’ve done all our Spring watering solely using rain water. My original concern was that there wouldn’t be enough water pressure to run the drip irrigation but it has worked just fine…”
Jeff & Heather Foeh

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How rain barrels can help you save money
There is no question that collecting and reusing rainwater helps the environment, but did you know it could help you, especially where your wallet is concerned? Rain barrels allow you to:

  • Reduce dependence upon city or well water by as much as 40% (sometimes even more), therefore reducing your water bill
  • Possibly receive rebates for the purchase of multi-unit systems (Austin and San Marcos residents)
  • Possibly avoid water restrictions with a ready back-up water source in times of drought or between rain showers
  • Increase the health of your soil by watering the yard and plants with rainwater, devoid of minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemical contaminants
  • No sales tax on rainwater collection systems

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Rain barrel accessories to consider
Some available options on the market :

  • Rain barrel soaker hose kit.    See testimony  below.
  • Rain chains
  • Curved pavers
  • Downspout rainwater diverters (allowing you to collect rainwater from your downspout with any cutting)
  • Cedar stands
  • Solar rain barrel pumps

Looking down at rain barrel soaker hose kit installed at Fredericksburg’s Middle School

 

“…I handed the [rain barrel] soaker hose kit to my 8th graders and they assembled it completely on their own.   When I used it for the first time I simply opened the spigot and walked away.   I came back a few hours later and the flower bed was completely saturated with fresh rain water.   This system is a must for drought survival.”
Tim Shipman
Fredericksburg Middle School
Horticulture Instructor

Rain chains are the easiest way to install the units. Essentially they install directly where a downspout would attach to your gutter system. Rain follows the copper chain down into the rain barrel. They are a decorative way to install a rain barrel without the need for any advanced gutter work.

Pavers are an alternative to using the wooden stand.   They can also be used in combination with the stand to increase the height and thereby increase the water pressure from the rain barrels.

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Larger systems

Both Austin and Fredericksburg average around 32″ rainfall annually. An average 1,500 ft2 home yields as much as 27,000 gallons of green water per year. With this mind, you may want more capacity than a few rain barrels.    Very large rainwater collections systems (10,000 gallons are more) are now available for home or commercial use.

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Installing your rain barrels in 5 Simple Steps
(Allow around 30 minutes to complete your installation.)

Downspout supplies needed:

  • Bracket
  • Two 90 ° elbows or one flexible elbow
  • Work gloves

Tools needed:

  • Hacksaw
  • Screwdriver or hammer
  1. Select a location to place your rain barrel. Generally, choose a site under a gutter downspout that has maximum rainwater flow. Secure that downspout to your house or building with a bracket. If no downspouts are available, either choose a location under a roof with maximum runoff or install guttering before proceeding with installation.
  2. Level the ground where your rain barrel(s) will be placed. Since your rain barrel stands are already provided, there is no need to elevate your rain barrel further.
  3. Using a fine-toothed hacksaw blade cut downspout approximately 4"³ above the top of the rain barrel (for multi-unit systems, it is the rain barrel that has the trap). Wear work gloves to protect yourself against sharp metal edges.
  4. Attach the downspout extender: either two 90 ° elbows or one flexible elbow
  5. Place rain barrel under downspout elbow and start collecting that rainwater (for multi-unit systems, select the rain barrel that contains the rain trap and netting).

Optional steps:

  1. Attach a soaker hose to the spigot to water your garden or landscape plans, shrubs and trees.
  2. Attach an overflow hose (if the rain barrel has an overflow valve).

See how the water is now diverted directly into the rain barrel trap

With this dual barrel system, both barrels fill up at the same time. PVC pipe connects the two barrels on the bottom (not visible here)

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