OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – What is “rainwater harvesting”, is it legal and how can Oklahomans benefit from it?
What is rainwater harvesting?
According to the Oklahoma Department Environmental Quality, rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting rainwater in containers like rail barrels, pools, cisterns, or tanks.
Oklahoma DEQ says harvested rainwater can be used to water lawns and gardens, which makes up 40% of all household water used during the summertime. A rain barrel can store rainwater and keep it for when homeowners need it, especially in times of drought.
Harvesting rainwater provides water free from chlorine, lime or calcium. OK DEQ also noted that rainwater can save money and energy by decreasing the need for treated tap water as well as decrease the flow to storm water drains, lowering nonpoint source pollution.
In Oklahoma, rainwater harvesting is encouraged through the Water for 2060 Act.
Water for 2060 Act
The Water for 2060 Act, also known as House Bill 3055, was passed in 2012 and made Oklahoma the first state in the U.S. to establish a statewide goal of consuming no more fresh water in the year 2060 than we currently consume, according to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB).
The Act stresses education and incentives instead of mandates to reach such a goal without taking away from Oklahoma’s future growth.
A Water for 2060 Advisory Council was developed in 2013 and is made up of fifteen members. The Council is chaired by the OWRB and fourteen other members appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
According to OWRB, the Council’s objectives include studying and pitching appropriate water conservation practices, incentives and educational programs to reduce statewide water usage while still reaching for Oklahoma’s population growth and economic development goals.
How to harvest rainwater
The City of OKC says the materials you’ll need include:
- Heavy duty clean barrel or container
- ¾’’ plastic spigot and threaded rubber seal
- 1¼’’ hole saw for faucet spigot
- Flexi-Fit rain barrel diverter
- (2) ¾’’ self-tapping screws for the diverter
- 3’ Flexible, accordion style hose and a 11/2’’ rubber seal for water-tight inlet
- 1 ½’’ hole saw for drum inlet hole
- 2 1/8’’ hole saw for the diverter hole in gutter downspout
- Note: Downspout must be a 2×3” or 3×4” rectangular type
According to the City, helpful tools include:
- Phillips screwdriver
- Safety gloves
- Safety goggles
- Measuring tape or ruler
Oklahoma DEQ says those interested in rainwater harvesting will need a catchment surface, which is what the will catch the rain, usually a roof.
Next, the water will be directed to gutters and downspouts. The location of your barrel needs to be placed so the downspouts can be connected to the tank or barrel that will store the rainwater. The rainwater containers can be made from almost any material like plastic, metal, concrete, masonry, stone and wood.
People can purchase rain barrels from manufacturers that can run for more than $100. People can also make their own from plastic barrels used for shipping or storage, OK DEQ says.
If you plan to make your own, the Dept. of Environmental Quality says it is crucial to know where the barrel came from and that it is clean. Make sure your barrel did not once contain something toxic or poisonous.
The top of the barrel where it connects to the downspout should have a screen trap at the water entry point to keep the mosquitos away. OK DEQ noted that the container should also be childproof with a tight lid.
OK DEQ says around 1/4 inch of rainfall runoff will fill an average barrel. Multiple barrels can be joined to reduce the amount of overflow. An overflow hose or tube can also be used.
A tap at the bottom of your barrel attached to a hose can make it easier to release your water, according to the Dept. of Environmental Quality.
For more information about rain harvesting, the correct equipment and how build your rain barrel, visit okc.gov or extension.okstate.edu.