What we in the US know as Rain Barrels, are known in England as Water Butts. Regardless of what they are called, they are a growing component on a residential level for harvesting rainwater, but may not be legal in the state in which you live. (No, I am not talking about your state of sanity). In parts of Arizona rainwater harvesting is required for new commercial developments while in Colorado rain harvesting was just made legal in 2009. In Utah limited rainwater harvesting was just made legal in 2010 while Atlanta is in the process of holding hearings to determine if rain water can be used for potable purposes. Like they say necessity is the mother of all inventions.
Personal Experience with Rainwater Harvesting
For those who don’t have a water butt, please indulge me as I share some of my personal experiences. I was an early convert, so my water butt is high on the DBU scale (Dog Butt Ugly). In a previous life my Butt was used to transport olive oil, but was nicely converted with a screen added to keep debris and mosquitoes out. Like most, mine holds the standard 55 gallons so when full it weighs about 460 pounds which means if the soil under it is not perfectly level AND compacted the Butt may lean and eventually fall over. I know; I have seen it happen twice.
I was smart enough to place it on the highest end of the house, but since my back yard slopes upward it can’t be used to water the pots on the patio or the roses on the top terrace, but I can use it to water the plants in the front yard which is about 10 ft. lower in elevation. By the time I open the spigot and walk to the front yard the water is almost there. The pressure gain is mostly negated from the friction loss of 75′ of garden hose so at the flow rate at the other end is about 1/2 gallon per minute…so much for using it for watering plants ever so slowly in the front yard.
But I do have 8 pots which have to be hand watered and I have an old fashioned water can that holds about 1-1/2 gallons. Since the can does not fit under the spigot at the bottom of the Butt (pun intended) I take the lid off and dip my can into the water. (No pun intended) Each can of water takes care of 3 pots, so after toting 37 lbs of water, the thirst of the potted plants is adequately quenched for a few days. Thankfully I enjoy spending time in the yard, because this process is neither quick nor efficient nor cost effective. My $129 investment will ROI after I use 6000 gallons, but hey the water is free.
My 55 gallon Butt will water my 8 pots for about 3 weeks without any rainfall to replenish the Butt. For those of you who are good at math you have already calculated that it should last longer, but when math meets reality you will discover my arms are not long enough to reach the bottom of the barrel and even if they were the can needs about 18 inches of water to be filled.
Please share your Water Butt experiences in the comment section for other water enthusiasts to enjoy.
Coming Soon – WHEN A WATER BUTT IS JUST NOT BIG ENOUGH