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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Collecting rainwater?

Collecting rainwater?

A former member
Post #: 1
I'm settling into my new home (new construction) in rural Gray, near Pineland, with new challenges (or opportunities?) surfacing every day. I do not have gutters on the house and ravines have now appeared where the water hits after falling off the roof. I need to do something soon and wonder if any method exists that would allow me to stop the erosion AND collect the rainwater, but from ground level.....somehow?! Or am I better off in a long run to pay the price of installing gutters and then collect the runoff in barrels?

By chance, I met a young woman from the Cumberland Soil and Water District/Royal River Youth Conservation Corps who is excited to bring her crew out to help put things in place to prevent runoff into the Royal River, which is just down the hill from my property. She suggested a rain garden, among many other possibilities. I like that idea, but would love to take it a step further and collect rainwater for the rest of my watering needs.

Any thoughts?

Many thanks for your help!

Merry Kahn
Ted M.
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 76
Hi Merry,

Speaking from the standpoint of someone who has not yet converted to a rainwater collection system, I can't imagine how you would collect the rainwater from your roof other than with rain gutters. I suppose you could collect it at ground level if you installed some kind of underground piping system with gravel on top, but I would think the cost might be pretty high - higher than it would cost to install gutters.

There is another system (can't remember the name) that installs on the roof edge (similar to gutters) that spreads the raindrops into a mist so that it doesn't form ravines, but I've never seen one at work.

Some here (Penny comes to mind) are now using rainwater collection, so maybe they will have more to offer.

Hope the "lawn" is coming along well! wink

Lisa F.
Group Organizer
Portland, ME
Post #: 456
I would suggest talking to Tom and Lee at one of the upcoming events. Their house in Gorham is gutterless, I believe. Yet rainwater from the roof fills their 500-gallon buried cistern a few yards away from the house. Mind you, one 1/2-inch rainstorm fills the tank!
Ted M.
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 78
I would suggest talking to Tom and Lee at one of the upcoming events. Their house in Gorham is gutterless, I believe. Yet rainwater from the roof fills their 500-gallon buried cistern a few yards away from the house. Mind you, one 1/2-inch rainstorm fills the tank!

Boy, I'd sure love to learn how that's done. A buried cistern suggests a buried pipe that carries runoff from the roof. I'll keep an eye open for one of their events.
user 5846522
Portland, ME
Post #: 47
Hi Merry; I have two barrels hooked up to a gutter in the back while in the front one barrel sitts under the roof line. It takes no time for them to fill up.
A former member
Post #: 92
Hi Merry,
You might want to check out two books: 'Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers and Ponds ' and 'Create an Oasis with Greywater' both by Art Ludwig to see if any of his ideas could be adpated to your situation. He is THE greywater/water system expert and his books are chock full of great ideas. I found the Greywater book at F.W. Horch in Brunswick.

Tom and Lee's under-their-eves-roof-catchment-system that feeds their underground cistern is really cool. I think they will be returning soon so maybe they will jump in on this discussion. Their cistern spills its surplus water into their pond. If doing the excavation for the underground drainage pipes under the eves seems too daunting to you, you could still direct the rainwater via: gutters into rainbarrels ( small capacity), above ground ferrocement cisterns ( larger capacity) or
depending on your slope, small ponds with spillways and rain garden areas.

South Berwick, ME
Post #: 13
You can also talk with Sharon England who owns SkyJuice New England. She sells a lot of rain barrels, but also does cistern systems.
A former member
Post #: 2
Thanks to all who have responded! (My apologies for getting back to you so late. I just finished installing 650 square feet of wild blueberry sod. Delicious, edible, native doesn't get much better than this!)

I've done enough online research this week to make me nervous about using runoff from my shingled roof for my vegetables and fruit. It should work for my flowers, though. And while I don't have gutters, I guess it makes sense to at least stick a barrel under the roof line and catch some of what is currently creating a trench on the ground! The books, the ideas, and the contacts....they are all appreciated!

And Ted, the "lawn" is turning out nicely, although I still have some bare ground. I've managed to do this without traditional lawn grass so far, although I did plant some sheep fescue mixed with wildflower in an area away from the house (no planned mowing). The Casco Bay Youth Conservation Corps is coming soon to help me finish, and the plans include the creation of a rain garden.

Again, my thanks to all!

Ted M.
Brunswick, ME
Post #: 79
Glad to hear that your place is coming together, Merry. I'd love to see some pictures at some point (hint).

As far as not having gutters goes...what do you do with the water once it hits the ground? I'm just wondering because unless you have a way to take the water away from the house, you could have problems with flooding. Of course, if your house sits on a slab, never mind.
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