How to Setup a Rain Water Collection System

When you think about collecting rain water you usually think about this huge fancy cistern connected to a few different gutters, elevated off the ground for fantastic gravity fed water any time you want.

While that is certainly an option, and doable, it’s maybe not a viable option for everyone.

Or maybe you simply don’t want to collect rain water from gutters, that’s ok, too! There are many ways to collect rain water.

Is collecting rain water illegal?

Watch the below video to see a run down of each state.

Keep in mind that some cities and counties might still have restrictions so I highly recommend looking into your local laws.

Did you know you don’t have to collect rain water from gutters?

For years I collected rain water in this setup:

  • Not attached to any gutters.
  • Had protection from bugs and other large debris.
  • Was ALWAYS full.

It was raised off the ground and was gravity fed with an on and off valve.

I’ve collected water in just about any container I can find. When it rains, I have containers outside that just get filled up. It’s not a ton, but it’s plenty to water my garden a little bit.

Yes, there’s debris in it. But I always filter the water first through a bandana or other cotton cloth first before using or purifying. And I use the water quickly enough that no mosquitos or other bugs are able to breed in it. You could also move the water in a bucket or other container so it’s not just sitting there out in the open.

But of course, it’s not super ideal to do that, it’s just one way to collect water; in any container possible.

Not everything is ideal, sometimes we just do what we can.

The other option is of course hooking up some 55 gallon drums or 275 gallon totes to gutters.

This is when we were setting up our 275 gallon totes for rain water collection.

Gutters can be placed on just about any structure. We placed them on both sides of this shed, allowing us to have two, 275 gallon totes of rain water.

With this setup, we elevated the totes on pallets. Don’t worry, the pallets absolutely can hold the weight of the water, have you ever seen the amount of weight they put on pallets? It’s totally fine. We had them completely full and the pallets held steady.

We also wrapped them in tarps to keep the direct sunlight off. Many choose to color the outside black and that’s fine, too. You could also place bleach inside of the rain water to prevent algae buildup.

We were planning to put gutters on our greenhouse and chicken house, as well. We were in an RV at the time, so no gutters there, but you can absolutely have gutters on your home, too.

All the gutters!

Is it safe to drink rain water?

Many people are concerned with rain water not being safe to consume.

Here are some options to make it safe to use in various ways:

  • Use the rain water to water your garden.
  • Filter and purify before consuming yourself or for your animals.
  • Use it for gray water purposes.

Lots of different ways to use rain water and make it safe to consume or just use it for your garden or gray water.

Rain water is an amazing resource. Collect it. Use it. Don’t be afraid of it.

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Morgan is the founder of Rogue Preparedness. She has been a prepper for over a decade. She's a wife, mother of two daughters and is homesteading off grid. She teaches people how to be prepared for emergencies and disasters.

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