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In Case of Rain, Water Harvesting Systems Can Help You Take Advantage of the Downpours

A variety of modern tanks makes capturing storm runoff barrels of fun for drought-weary residents

This plastic resin rain “barrel” is designed to look like real wood.
This plastic resin rain “barrel” is designed to look like real wood. (Hayneedle.com photo)

On the heels of flash flooding in parts of Santa Barbara County and with heavy El Niño rains predicted in the months ahead, now is as good a time as any to change our thinking about how we use water in our homes and gardens.

Even amid California’s persistent drought, scientists are quick to tell us that there is wisdom in this thinking.

The prudent among us already are looking for ways to make efficient use of the windfall of water promised this winter by investing in water harvesting systems.

Different kinds of water harvesting tanks are showing up at hardware stores across the Central Coast and at numerous online stores. They’re intended to help us capture the rainwater that will run off our rooftops, through our rain gutters and down our downspouts.

The concept of collecting rainwater is nothing new, of course. Cisterns have existed for centuries, but many of today’s new water harvesting tanks are versatile, portable and affordable.

For the aesthetically inclined, there are options that will work with almost any style home.

Water harvesting tanks vary widely in terms of how they are constructed and what they cost. They can be as simple as a tank placed at the bottom of a downspout with a spigot at the bottom or very involved with pumps and filtration systems.

In this elegant water harvesting tank, rain that enters the barrel from the downspout is immediately on tap for future use. Click to view larger
In this elegant water harvesting tank, rain that enters the barrel from the downspout is immediately on tap for future use. (Hammacher Schlemmer photo)

Hayneedle.com has a large assortment of rain harvesting barrels, ranging from containers that look like wine barrels to modular walls that offer privacy as well as water storage.

If you need to touch it and see it to feel sure of what you’re buying, an outing to Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center, 415 E. Gutierrez St., is worth the trip. There are several rain barrels in stock that could meet your needs.

For the more handy among us, Wikihow has great step-by-step directions on how to build your own water harvesting system.

With such a wide variety of water harvesting systems available to us, there is almost no excuse not to try to capture some percentage of the water we will — hopefully — get this winter.

When the dry months (or years) roll around again, you will be happy you did.

— Noozhawk contributing writer Hilary Doubleday can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Rain barrels and accessories are available at most hardware stores, including Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center. Click to view larger
Rain barrels and accessories are available at most hardware stores, including Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center. (Hilary Doubleday / Noozhawk photo)

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