Want to Know the Fundamentals of Collecting Rainwater?
Rainwater harvesting is good for your wallet and the environment, and this post will provide you with essential information to help you get started*. Even if you live in an area with low levels of rainfall, you can still save money. Rainwater is good for plants because it is free of salts and other minerals that harm root growth, and rainwater harvesting is useful on both large and small landscapes.
Collecting rainwater is a great way to conserve water and improve water quality. Efficient use of water is critical in Texas. With the state’s growing population and limited supply of water, Texans must use water wisely. Harvesting rain can prevent flooding and erosion. It turns storm water problems into water supply assets by slowing runoff and allowing it soak into the ground.
Are you interested in rainwater harvesting? Check out the resources below.
*Always contact your local water utility before installing any system to ensure you comply with local requirements.
Designing and Building Your Rainwater Harvesting System
Some homeowners may simply desire to install a rain barrel or two on a couple of downspouts. This is a relatively easy project that can supplement your water needs in between periods of rain. There are financial incentives such as rebates, discounts, and tax exemptions available for purchasing rain barrels, or you can build your own.
However, if you desire a rainwater harvesting system that will meet all your landscape watering needs, there are several steps to follow. You’ll analyze your site, calculate your water supply and demand, and design, construct, and test your system. Download or order our free guide, Rainwater Harvesting, to learn more about planning a complex rainwater harvesting system.
How to Build Your Own Rain Barrel
- Check out this video, Building a Rain Barrel, and the accompanying blog post, DIY: Build a Rain Barrel, for step-by-step instructions to build your own rain barrel.
- Also, check out the Take Care of Texas Guide, Rainwater Harvesting with Rain Barrels, to learn more about building and using your own rain barrels.
Paying for Your Rainwater Harvesting System
You can often find rain barrels at gardening supply stores, online, or at home improvement stores. Before you buy, check with your local government or water utility to find out if there are incentives available that can lower your costs. Some cities and counties offer rebates on rainwater harvesting systems or provide discounts on rain barrels.
The Texas Legislature allows the exemption of part or all of the assessed value of the property on which approved water conservation initiatives, such as rainwater harvesting, are made (Texas Tax Code §11.32). Individuals planning to install rainwater harvesting systems should check with their respective county appraisal districts for guidance on exemption from county property taxes.
In addition to local incentives, the Texas Tax Code (151.355) exempts rainwater-harvesting equipment from sales tax. Download the Texas Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificate from the Texas Comptroller.
Below we have compiled rebates and discounts from cities in Texas. If you don’t see your city listed, check with your local government or water provider to find out if they offer any incentives.
- College Station
- New Braunfels
- Round Rock
- San Antonio
- San Marcos
- The Woodlands
Maintaining Your Rainwater Harvesting System
It’s important to know that rainwater systems require ongoing maintenance.
Check your gutters, downspouts, and screens, clear away leaves, sticks, and other debris, and flush anything that has accumulated at the bottom of your storage container.
You’ll want to regularly check your storage container for leaks and repair them as needed.
Examine mosquito netting and replace any that is damaged. You may also want to regularly use a product containing Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis), commonly known as a mosquito dunk, which controls mosquitoes at the larval stage. This product is effective, and evidence has shown that it is non-toxic to humans, amphibians, fish, and birds.
Inspect your water catchment before the rainy season and after each rainfall.
Statewide Support for Rainwater Harvesting
Texas has several laws supporting rainwater harvesting. Texas Property Code prevents a homeowner’s association from prohibiting the use of rainwater harvesting systems (Texas Property Code §202.007).
The state also requires certain new state facilities to incorporate rainwater harvesting systems in their design (Texas Government Code §447.004(c)(8)).
Municipalities and counties are also encouraged to promote rainwater harvesting at residential, commercial, industrial, and educational facilities through incentives such as discounts for rain barrels or rebates for water storage facilities (Texas Local Government Code §580.004).
Additionally, a municipality or county cannot deny a building permit solely because the facility will implement rainwater harvesting; however, it may require that the system comply with the minimum state standards established for such systems (Texas Local Government Code §580.004).