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Last summer we ran into some serious water shortages here in North Texas. The first victims: lawns and landscaping. I’ve heard a lot of talk about rainwater collection, but my HOA will never allow me to place an above-ground barrel anywhere in sight of the public. Do any of you collect rainwater for non-potable use in the summer, and if so, how do you do it?

Assuming you have a pier-and-beam house, the Rainwater Pillow looks interesting. Pictured above, it’s a big bag that fits out-of-the-way underneath your home, filters any incoming water to reduce organics (and odor), and includes a pump to simplify getting the water back out for use.

I’ve also heard of similar systems (like this one) for slab-built homes, but the idea of storing water in the slab itself scares the crap out of me.

What do you think? Let us know in comments.

The Rainwater Pillow [Manufacturer]


11 Responses to Reader Question: Do You Collect Rainwater?

  1. Josh says:

    When I saw the huge weeds growing under a friend’s sump pump discharge, it occurred to me that I could set rain barrels in my basement along with a small pump to handle watering.

    And a gravity fed barrel would probably work just as well in the garage or a utility room. Just plumb it in to the downspout with some 2-3″ flex-poly line hidden behind the wall and use a small pump to feed the water back out to your garden spaces.

  2. steve says:

    I use two(2) 300 gallon stock tanks(from TSC) set below down spouts collecting 800sq ft and 400 sq ft areas. Gravity feed thru garden hose or “Little Giant” pump for areas higher than tanks. One inch of rain fills tank under the 800 ft2 and the 400 ft2 needs two + inches to fill it. Have diverter valves on down spouts to control flushing the tanks when the tadpoles are in them, other wise allow tanks to overflow and add water to lawn. AVG rainfall in SE PA is 45 inches a year.
    Have had frogs raise young in both tanks for past three years. Get sung too every night.

  3. Rick says:

    I use a good old 55 gal drum under the drainspout. It is a painted 55gal (used to be blue) plastic drum. it used to hold soysauce. If you get one make sure that the barrel didnt comtain anything unhealthy.

    I have a little hand barrel pump on it, it works great and saves water/money. I could hook up a pump to it, but no need.

  4. Chris says:

    Rick, how much square footage is that barrel collecting from, and how fast does it fill up? What do you do about mosquitoes? Overflow?


  5. Jude says:

    I’ve been considering this same thing. I can’t find any information on how to alternate between city and rain water. Since I’m in SoCal, I couldn’t depend on just mother nature.

  6. Bill says:

    Dunks In your non-potable reservoir will keep mosquito larve from developing.

  7. Chris says:

    And by “dunks”, I assume Bill meant something like these:


    Looks interesting, although I’d still prefer to keep them from getting in there in the first place if at all possible.


  8. Buster says:

    Can’t you put a fine netting over the top to allow water in but no skeeters? May have to adjust you inlet set up to account for loss of flow area, but I’ve seen a couple of set ups like that.

  9. Buster says:

    When I finally get around to building a collection system – I was considering using an eductor system to suck the water out to go to my lawn sprinkler. The eductor would use the velocity of the water going to the sprinklers to pull the water out. This is assuming the tanks were at or near ground level. Haven’t found the right eductor yet, but may just make my own.

  10. RO says:

    This sounds like it was totally ripped off from the US Army. I first saw this kind of bladder system being tested at TACOM, while I was a contractor there about seven years ago.

    Here is an article about how the Army water filter and bladder system works.


  11. darels says:

    I bought two tanks from TCS when I planted the orchard, a 550 gallon which I put on a trailer, and a 1500 gallon I put next to the barn, with gutters and downspouts feeding both from about a third of the roof. They both easily fill to overflowing during the winter and spring. I haul the trailer over to the orchard a few times in August and September (may not have to this year, we’ve had more rain than lately), and refill it from the bigger tank when I need to. We get about 44 inches per year in south-central MO. I figure when I get moved up there full-time, I’ll get a couple bigger tanks and add the house and garage roofs; with judicious use we should be able to get most household/garden water that way, without straining the (old, shallow) well too much. And even very large tanks are MUCH cheaper than drilling a new well; they’re going to 400 feet up there these days.

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