Collecting rainwater, good, bad or illegal - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-16-2017, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Collecting rainwater, good, bad or illegal

We had two straight downspouts one on each corner of the back of our bi level home. It occurred to me one day just how much water is going to waste.

So over a period of time I picked the brains of those who would know of such things a way to save all the wasted water.

This is what I came up with, I hope my description helps anyone with a similar interest.

I used two 30 degree aluminum elbows to angle the downspout towards the center of the back of the house where our raised deck sits. As our home is bi-level we have a raised deck giving us access to upstairs from the back yard.

Two IBC totes fitted perfectly under the deck which was then enclosed with trellis. One side had hinges fitted giving access to both of the totes, although it is a tight fit.

The totes were picked up for $30 each locally off Craigslist and cleaned thoroughly three times using a high pressure power washer, they were left with the valve wide open to drain all the water and left to dry. Only then were the final fittings put in place and water collected. I would highly recommend asking what they carried initially.

There is a 2/3 hp sump pump in one with a fitting that reduces to a normal washing machine size hose that reaches into the house through a downstairs window.

When I replace both of them at the end of fall this year (they have lasted 9 years but now have a couple of cracks much to my dismay) the only changes I would make would be to place styrofoam sheeting between the cage and the tote itself. This will not stop the water from freezing in the dead of winter but it will keep it from freezing in the early frosts. When winter arrives I open both of the valves and they are left dry until the spring comes around again.

The water is pumped into the house into a Brute trash can where it is filtered and heated to tank temperature. Water changes are usually once a week where another sump pump of lesser power is connected to a 3/4" hose to reach and refill both aquariums.

We are considering adding a heater similar to those used on farms to keep cattle troughs from freezing thus giving access to the water all year round, we shall see.

Total cost was less than $100.

Both sump pumps were acquired through craigslist $20 for the larger one and $10 for the smaller one.

Two IBC totes $60 ($30 each)

Aluminum downspout, fasteners, screws, attachments and 4 elbows $15

The rainwater we get here in SE Kansas reaches us at a ph of 4.8 (tested at a local lab) and treated accordingly, so this again is something to be aware of in your locality.

I have read it is illegal in some cities to collect rainwater so please be aware of your local city ordinances.
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Last edited by StevieD; 07-16-2017 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Clarification
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 03:07 PM
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Collecting rainwater is a great idea. Just filter it before you use it. I'd also advise on knowing what was in the IBC before. That's a darn good price. Most in my area are $100 or more. Some have vinegar some I am not sure of.


There are relatively few states now where collecting rainwater is illegal. I posted a bunch of info on another thread here.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 03:11 PM
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There are relatively few states now where collecting rainwater is illegal. I posted a bunch of info on another thread here.
Why would that be illegal? Just curious

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 03:17 PM
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Why would that be illegal?
Because the states that are left where it is illegal feel that the rainwater is public resource and make it illegal.

Nevada's laws are being contested.
Utah places so many restrictions that for all practical purposes it is illegal.
Some states require an engineer to design the system
Washington state allows it only from rooftops.
Colorado residents are legally allowed up to two rain barrels for rainwater harvesting systems that comply with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Collecting more than what is allotted is still illegal as well as groundwater harvesting.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-17-2017, 03:49 PM
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i collected rain water that dripped off the roof of my apartment and dumped it straight into my tank. it was ok. didn't notice anything different
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 07-18-2017, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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It would appear that some of the western states are the ones with the most stringent water collection laws, but if you do it quietly without a fuss and do not go overboard I do not see any "men in black" appearing on your doorstep.

If I was to add anything to the initial post it would be sure to place the styrofoam inside the cage prior to allowing the totes to start to fill. I will be paying a visit to our local Home Depot to see what thicknesses the sheets are available, and more importantly if they will fit

Thanks to all for your input
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