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Rain water Harvesting Methods

Rain water harvesting methods allow you to collect an independent water supply and store for use at a later date. Developed countries frequently use it as an extra to the mains supply, as it can help in times when restrictions may have been imposed due to droughts. Collected rainwater is as a rule sufficient for many household requirements often lessening the call for extra detergents as it is softer.

Nowadays the need to cut costs and look after natural resources has seen the comeback of rain water harvesting methods in many homes.

However much harvested rainwater you are able to collect will contribute to uses in the garden and within the house, dependent on how sophisticated the rain water harvesting methods you install.

In Bulgaria it is a sensible option to use even a basic system considering that during the summer months it can be a scarce commodity, here we take a look at a selection of rain water harvesting methods.

Bulgaria's average annual rainfall of 700 mm a year is significantly lower than that of England (928 mm). This is characterised by long periods without rainfall during summer and frequent droughts particularly over the last 10 years where interruptions to the water supply affected over 70% of the population. Add to this, the existing archaic methods of collection and the lack of new dams and the situation when there is a drought is much more severe than if it were to happen back home.

The Benefits of Rainwater

Rainwater is naturally soft and this means that you do not have to use lots of detergent, which leads to a buildup of lime scale in your appliances. You also need less fertilizer if you use rainwater to irrigate your garden because it contains many natural properties. Rainwater is far more beneficial to those people who have sensitive skin because it is a lot milder and consequently less likely to cause irritation.

Collection and Storage Methods

Conserving rainwater has been done by Bulgarians for centuries; it has provided them with free water to grow their own produce and raise livestock. Most Bulgarians collect rainwater in a plastic butt, but today there are many more sophisticated ways of conserving water like in Australia for instance where water tanks are commonly used by households for storing collected rain water.

You need to put some thought into what you will do with the rainwater you intend to collect in order to determine the best method of storage. You also need to think about the volume of rain you will harvest and remember that it does vary between regions. Precipitation is higher in the north west of the country than on the coast. It is common for villages to be without water for several weeks at a time during the summer months, yet wetter regions prone to flash floods from heavy summer storms.

There are three harvest rainwater methods and anyone building a new home will be able to accommodate a system enabling them to take full advantage of their rainfall collection system. Obviously, the most common is the good old water butt. Water butts are usually made from plastic, but some are constructed from fiberglass and metal and of course, it's possible to collect rainwater in an old wooden barrel. They available from DIY stores and are reasonably priced - you can even purchase additional fittings to connect two butts together to collect a larger amount of water and minimise the waste lost in collection. You can leave them to stand in your garden to collect any rain, which falls or make them even more efficient by linking them into your down pipe to catch water from the guttering around your house. If you decide on this method then you need check regularly that your gutters are not blocked with leaves and rubbish.

Another more sophisticated means of collection is via an interior reservoir, which is usually placed in a cellar or outhouse. This system allows for extremely effective water conservation as it also collects water used in the home for washing by means of a simple pump method.
The third method is the most complex and thus more expensive. It involves sinking a large plastic reservoir into your garden. Such tanks must be capable of resisting pressure from the earth when the tank is not full. This method of collection allows you to collect high volumes of water and is available from specialist suppliers on the internet. The plastic collection tank must be bedded in at least one metre below the ground in a part of your garden where there are no vehicles or trees. You need to give plenty of thought to where you are going to site your tank in advance of building - it is more cost effective to have the tank installed when your foundations are being laid. When you finally come to landscaping your garden you will be able to link into this tank to an irrigation system to water your garden.

The Cost of Bulgarian Water

Whilst there are some homes that rely solely on well water, most homes are connected to mains water, which is metered meaning that you only pay for what you use. You are charged per cubic metre (1,000 litres) and a family of four will generally only spend around 30 lv. a month on water.

Rainwater Usage

If you have invested time and effort into landscaping your Bulgarian garden then you can protect it from the ravages of the sun by watering it with rainwater that you have collected over the year. More importantly, harvesting rainwater will decrease your water bills and take away some of the burden on our ailing environment. In addition to watering your garden, conserved water can be used to wash the car, dustbins, and patio areas as well as filling your swimming pool. If you employ a method like the irrigation system you will be able to feed conserved water back around your house to flush toilets, wash clothes and dishes via modern household appliances. Such conservation systems are still quite rare but are likely to become more popular over the next few years as more builders strive to make their new builds more eco friendly. When a drought hits and it will you will be extremely happy that you made the effort to conserve rainwater. Even if you have not been able to employ one of the sophisticated rainwater harvesting methods of collection you will still be able to collect buckets of water from your water butt to flush stinking toilets and wash dishes!

For more about rain water harvesting methods read Focus on Wells and Well Water.