5 Common Rainwater Harvesting Problems and How To Fix Them

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  • Post last modified:February 2, 2023

Harvesting rainwater is an excellent practice for any homestead, but rainwater collection systems aren’t without problems. However, there are many solutions to the common issues.

Water Collection

1. Algae Buildup In Water Catchment

Here are some steps to address algae buildup in a water catchment system:

Increase water circulation

Algae thrive in still, warm water. Increasing water circulation through the catchment system can help reduce the amount of time that the water spends in stagnant conditions and can help reduce algae growth.

Use physical barriers

Placing floating plants or physical barriers in the water can help shade the water and reduce the amount of light available to the algae.

Implement biological controls

Introducing species like fish that feed on algae can help reduce the amount of algae present in the water.

Use chemical controls

Chemical treatments like algaecides and copper-based compounds can be used to kill algae. However, it’s important to use these products carefully and follow label instructions to avoid harm to other aquatic life and the environment.

See this article for a study on the safety of using certain chemical controls

2. Mosquito Larvae

Here are some organic methods to control mosquito larvae in a water catchment system:

Eliminate standing water

Mosquito larvae need stagnant water to develop, so removing standing water is the most effective way to prevent them from hatching. Regularly removing any containers, tires, or other items that can hold water can help reduce the amount of standing water available to mosquitoes.

Introduce predators

Fish and other aquatic creatures, like dragonfly larvae, feed on mosquito larvae and can help reduce their population. Consider introducing these species to the catchment system.

Use biological controls

Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTI) is a naturally occurring bacteria that is toxic to mosquito larvae but safe for humans and other animals. You can purchase BTI products to add to the water to control mosquito larvae populations.

Cover water storage containers

If you use water storage containers, consider covering them to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs on the surface of the water.

Use garlic and lemon juice

Mixing garlic and lemon juice into the water can help reduce the number of mosquitoes in the catchment system. The mixture can be made by blending garlic and lemon juice and straining the mixture into the water.

It’s important to regularly monitor the catchment system and implement the most appropriate combination of these strategies to effectively control mosquito populations while using organic and natural methods.

3. Debris (Leaves, Dirt, Roofing Material)

Here are some steps to prevent debris from entering rainwater collection systems:

Install a first-flush diverter

This device diverts the initial flow of water from the roof, which is often the most contaminated, away from the storage tank.

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Install screens or filters

Installing screens or filters at the entrance to the storage tank can help prevent large debris from entering the system. The screens or filters can be made of materials like mesh or foam.

Regular maintenance

Regularly inspecting and cleaning the system can help prevent debris buildup and ensure that the system is functioning properly.

Proper roof design

Using a roof material that sheds debris, such as metal or tile, and designing the roof to slope away from the collection system can help reduce the amount of debris that enters the system.

Use a leaf guard

Installing a leaf guard over the gutters can help prevent leaves and other debris from entering the collection system.

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your rainwater collection system remains free of debris and functions properly for a long time.

4. Freezing

Here are some steps to prevent a rainwater collection system from freezing:

Insulate pipes and storage tanks

Insulating pipes and storage tanks can help reduce heat loss and prevent freezing.

Install heat trace cable

Installing heat trace cable along the pipes and storage tank can help keep the water above freezing even in very cold temperatures.

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Keep water moving

Keeping the water moving can help prevent it from freezing, so consider installing a pump or valve that can circulate water through the system.

Use an insulated tank cover

An insulated tank cover can help reduce heat loss and prevent the water in the tank from freezing.

Install a thermostatically controlled heating element

Installing a thermostatically controlled heating element can help regulate the temperature of the water in the tank and prevent freezing.

Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your rainwater collection system remains functional even in very cold temperatures. It’s important to monitor the system regularly and take additional measures if needed to prevent freezing.

5. Overflow Waste

Here are some steps to effectively divert the overflow from a rainwater collection system:

Connect to a secondary storage tank

Connecting the rainwater collection system to a secondary storage tank can help ensure that the overflow is captured and used. The secondary tank can be used to store excess water for future use.

Direct overflow to a permeable surface

Directing the overflow to a permeable surface, such as a lawn or garden, can allow the water to be absorbed and used to water plants.

Install a rain garden

Installing a rain garden, which is a landscaped area designed to collect and absorb rainwater, can be a good way to use the overflow.

Connect to a gray water system

If available, connecting the overflow from the rainwater collection system to a gray water system can allow the water to be used for non-potable purposes, such as flushing toilets or irrigation.

Use a swale

A swale is a shallow channel designed to collect and direct water. Installing a swale near the rainwater collection system can help ensure that the overflow is effectively managed and used.

By taking these steps, you can make the most effective use of the overflow from a rainwater collection system and ensure that the water is put to good use.

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    Author, blogger, podcaster, homesteading and permaculture enthusiast. I have a passion for sharing what I learn and helping others on their journey. If you're looking for me, you'll usually find me in the garden.

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