As you may have already heard, the chances of a relatively strong El Niño this year in Southern California are pretty high. With California still in a drought, why not take this opportunity to install a water collection system to utilize the free rain water to keep your garden looking beautiful? As of 2012, thanks to the Rainwater Recapture Act, it’s now legal for Californians to collect and store rain water that falls off their roof. The water collecting systems are easy to install in a few hours, and won’t break the bank. You can even find decorative barrels that will keep the rain barrel from drawing attention away from your otherwise perfectly landscaped backyard.

2012 white oak rain barrel rain barrel rain catcher rain catcher1

If you really don’t want to see anything at all, for a price you can also get an underground system installed so anyone that steps foot in your backyard will have no idea that they’re standing on your own personal water reservoir. Also, if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, you’ll have enough water to barricade your house and survive for at least a few months before having to venture out into the chaos. Provided that you stocked up on food at Costco before this all went down.

So how much water can be captured from a single storm? 20, 30, 50 gallons? You might be surprised to find if you have a 1000 sq. ft. roof, and we receive only a 1/4 inch of rain, you can capture up to 150 gallons of water! That’s enough to fill 3 rain barrels with one storm. Here’s how to figure out your roof’s water collection capabilities:

To calculate the runoff from any given rainfall:

  • Take the dimensions of the footprint of your roof and convert them to inches. (For example, a 50′ x 20′ roof is 600″ x 240″.)
  • Multiply the roof dimensions by the number of inches of rainfall. (In this example, 600″ x 240″ x .25″ = 34,560 cubic inches of water.)
  • Divide by 231 to get the number of gallons (because 1 gallon = 231 cubic inches so 34,560/231 = 150).

As you can see, if we have a good El Niño, and you were really serious about recapturing water, you could set yourself up with enough barrels to capture enough water to dramatically decrease your reliance on the city’s water supply for your garden, grass, etc…

Think it takes a professional to install one of these? Think again, by following the instructions, and with a few tools, you can have this done in a few hours. Take a look at this video demonstrating how easy it has become to install one of these in your yard.

So if you want to benefit from the rain we are about to receive, go install one of these this weekend!

For some more pictures and DIY instruction on the different types of rain barrels out there check out this Pintrest board: