What are the Different Methods for Recycling Rainwater?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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There are a number of different methods for recycling rainwater, although the two most common are the use a small container such as a one gallon (about 3.8 liters) jug or a larger container such as a rainwater barrel. Regardless of which method is used, the intended purpose is typically the same: to gather rainwater and store it for easy use in watering a garden or yard. Both of these methods for rainwater recycling are fairly simple and inexpensive, and can result in noticeably reduced water bills during warm, dry summer months.

The smallest, and perhaps simplest, system for recycling rainwater is to take a plastic one gallon (about 3.8 liters) jug used for soda, juice, milk, or any other liquid transportation and then use it to gather the rainwater. This can be done easily by either keeping the top off the jug or cutting the top slightly wider to allow easier capture of more water. The jug should then be placed under a drain spout or runoff beneath a gutter or similar roof rainwater runoff system. This allows the rainwater to be captured within the jug rather than simply pouring onto the ground.


A plastic jug is also an excellent choice because it will usually have a handle, making it an easy and inexpensive watering can. If greater amounts of water are needed, then larger means of recycling rainwater can be employed. This is typically achieved by using or making a rainwater barrel, which is usually large enough to hold 50 or more gallons (more than 190 liters) of recycled rainwater. Much like the jug, a hole is made in the top of the barrel and it is placed beneath a drainage spout or roof runoff.

For either type of container, a screen or mesh should be pulled across the opening and held in place by clamps or a rubber band. This keeps out debris, as well as discouraging insects such as mosquitoes from frequenting the area. It is important to ensure that a large container such as a barrel is also covered to prevent small animals or children from falling into the water.

Water obtained through any method of recycling rainwater should not be consumed or used for bathing. A rainwater barrel is easy to construct, with many soft drink distributors having such barrels available for purchase. This type of barrel can then be easily outfitted with a spigot at the bottom, or a valve to allow easy filling of a jug or can for use. Barrels may even be provided for free in some areas by local city councils as a way to encourage recycling rainwater and reduce municipal water usage.


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