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Setting Up Your Rainwater Harvesting System in South Africa

As we are living in a country that is prone to droughts and other water access issues, having a rainwater harvesting system in South Africa is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you have access to water throughout the year.

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Such systems come in a variety of catchment sizes, allowing you to find the perfect system to suit your collection needs as well as the size of your property meaning even smaller properties, with not all that much garden space, can also have such a system installed.

As water tariffs constantly rising and water bills really biting into household budgets, relying solely on municipal water is no longer a viable option. With rain water tanks, the only expense you will have is the actual tank and maybe the installation. Once it is installed, thanks to its high quality durability, your tank for rainwater harvesting storage will provide you with litres of free water for years to come.

Different Methods Used in Rainwater Catchment Systems

Rain water harvesting is something that every South African household can and should be doing. When it comes to domestic rainwater harvesting, you have a few options at your disposal and you can even store your rain water below ground if you don’t have enough space or would rather not have a tank above ground.

When choosing your method for rainwater storage, it is important to not only decide how much rain water you’d like to store at any given time, but you also need to determine which method will be most suitable for your needs.

There are many ways to safely store rain water. The various product solutions that you will have available to you, when you choose to work with Livestainable, will give you maximum benefits, whether you are collecting annual rainfall, winter rainfall or just summer rainfall.

Above Ground vs. Below Ground Water Storage

An above ground rainwater harvesting system might seem like the most common type of storage system, but that might only be because it is the more visible of the two.

Above Ground Tanks

Above ground water storage tanks differ from below ground tanks in a number of ways. The most obvious difference is that this tank sits above the ground. The fact that it is above ground means that it is easier to install and the water is easier to remove. These tanks are also less expensive and they are in many ways easier to fill, especially if you have it next to something like a rainwater gutter. This way, the water can simply run off the gutter and into the tank.

Below Ground Tanks

Below ground tanks are not often used at residential homes, because they can be a little more complicated to install and to keep clean. These tanks are also a lot more expensive, because the installation process is quite intricate and requires more planning than if you were to buy the other type of tank. Below ground tanks also require a pump to remove the water, which adds on to the expense.

“Dry” System

A “dry” system is a simplistic set up and it allows for water to run directly from gutters to the water storage tank. For this kind of system to work, you will need to install the water tank closer to your home than you otherwise would, which is not always ideal for those who want their tank to not be so visible.

If you are opting for this type of system it is important to keep in mind that this system is vulnerable to mosquito infestation and so you might need to do a little more maintenance to keep the pipes clean.

“Wet” System

“Wet” systems are used primarily for underground water tanks.

Rain water harvesting, when using a “wet” system, consists of pipes which lead from your gutters, underneath the ground, and into the below the surface water storage tank. These systems are preferred by many because they are mostly out of sight and as a result they are far less messy than the dry system mentioned above.

With such a system you can also place your tank further away from your home which can be a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

How the Rainwater Harvesting Works

The entire process is incredibly simple and it is designed in such a way that anyone can get to grips with the technology. Rainwater harvest systems are designed to capture rain water and guide it from roofs and similar structures to either an above the ground tank or a below the ground tank.

This rainwater can be used to keep gardens watered during dry months or it can be used to flush toilets or even consume, should it be put through the right filtration systems.

Whether you use a wet or a dry system, the principle of moving water from wherever it has collected to a suitable tank remains the same and the goal is always to save water and to become a little more independent of the municipal water supply.

Rainwater Harvesting Benefits

There are numerous benefits associated with rainwater harvesting and these include:

  • It’s cost-effective. Once the tank is paid for, collecting and using water will cost you nothing.
  • You will be able to conserve water.
  • The overall practice is incredibly simple and can be done by anyone since it requires no skill.
  • It plays a role in reducing soil erosion.
  • Tanks and systems are easy to install and can be quickly put in place.
  • You will be able to save on your water bill.
  • You will have more control over your water source.

Maintenance & Keeping Your Water Tank Clean

Keeping a smaller water storage tank is quite simple. While a lot of people neglect the maintenance and cleaning of their tank, it is vitally important that you take the necessary steps to do these tasks in order to give the tank a longer lifespan.

Cleaning your tank out will also help to improve the water quality, should you be using the water for domestic purposes. Some of the ways that you can keep your tank in a good, clean condition include:

  • Keeping the roof of the tank clean and remove any debris. Not only can dirt and debris affect the durability of the tank in the long term, but it can also result in the water being contaminated.
  • Keep the gutters clean. The rainwater from your roof can be dirtied by the gutter should your gutters be filled with dust and dirt. Dirtied gutters can also become clogged which will prevent water from moving into the tank.
  • Inspect the inside of the tank and look for insects or small animals that might have fallen in.

The tank placement will have an effect on the water quality if you have placed your tank in an area where it can be contaminated. When placing your tank, make sure that you have a chat with the company you are buying your tank from. They should be able to give you great advice.

Rainwater Collection in Different Industries

Different industries can benefit from having a water storage tank in various ways. While domestic rainwater harvesting is without a doubt one of the most common uses for rainwater tanks, the commercial, agricultural and industrial industries can also benefit in similar ways, such as saving money, always having a consistent supply of water available, and contributing to water conservation.

Commercial and agricultural industries can benefit in another way, in relation to cleaning. Having a constant supply of water is ideal when there is plenty of cleaning to be done.

Rainwater Harvesting Equipment

To get the most out of your system, you will need some equipment aside from the tank. Things like taps, pipes, a leaf catcher, and a leaf eater are all extremely useful to have. Most tanks will at the very least come with a tap (if it is an above ground tank), and you can always set up your above ground tank in such a way that it can collect rainwater directly from the gutters. If you go with this simple method, you will also be able to minimise your need for pipes.

A leaf catcher or a leaf eater are both useful if you have an open tank or if your gutters are beneath a tree.

If you have an underground tank, you will need to invest in a pump as well, since you won’t have the luxury of gravity aiding your access to the water.

FAQs about Water Tanks and Rainwater Collection

Is collecting rainwater illegal in South Africa?

There are no laws or restrictions in place to legally prevent South Africans from collecting rainwater. So no, collecting rainwater in South Africa is not illegal.

What are the 2 types of rainwater harvesting?

The 2 types of rainwater harvesting are rooftop rainwater harvesting and surface runoff rainwater harvesting. Of the 2, roof rainwater harvesting is the easiest and the most effective.

How much does a rainwater harvesting system cost?

Depending on your needs a simple tank with a tap can cost anything from R2000 to R10 000 while a full system can set you back anything between R 15 000 to R 35 000 or more, if you are looking to collect water for industrial or commercial purposes.

What are the three types of rainwater harvesting systems?

The three types of rainwater harvesting systems include indirect gravity, indirect pump and direct pump.

What is a water collection system?

A water collection system is technology designed to collect, store and in some way redistribute rain water. These systems can also be referred to as rainwater collection systems or rainwater catchment systems.

What is the process of rainwater harvesting?

The process of rainwater harvesting consists of the collection of runoff rain water from roofs and other such structures for storage in tanks for later use. The most common way to successfully achieve this is by placing the tank beneath or close to gutters, which allows for the seamless transfer of water from roofs to tanks.

How do you plan rainwater harvesting?

Start planning your rainwater harvesting by determining where water drains from a particular surface. Then decide how much water you need or would like to store, and shop around until you find the perfect match for your requirements.[/read]

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