Rainwater collection in Georgia and throughout the U.S. is a booming business. Not just because we are in drought but mostly because residents want control over the success of their gardens and landscapes. Storing your own water gives you control. There are no laws you must abide, no times you can and can’t water and the only limit is how much water you have stored.

There are many reasons why we are in a Level 4 drought in Georgia. Everyone has an idea of how we got here and how we will solve the problem.  Most are good ideas but they will take a long time to implement.  This means you will have to learn to survive during this drought because real relief is a long way down the road.  The public perception is when it is raining there is plenty of water.  But the reality is that with the growth in Atlanta, conservation is necessary.

Georgia is an excellent region to collect rainwater. Last year over 31” of rain was recorded in Atlanta. The driest month was November ,when we still received just less than one inch. The average rainfall last year was 2.6”/month. On a 1,600 square foot roof, you can collect 1,000 gallons of water for each inch of rain. So I could have collected 31,000 gallons of water from my roof last year. We do get enough rainwater to make collection successful in Georgia.

Rainwater collection in any form will benefit Georgia’s landscape industry as well as its homeowners. Nurseries and landscape businesses will continue to be affected unless we solve the water issues ourselves. Rainwater collection is by far the quickest way to get your clients back on track. Homeowners who have large amounts of collected water have the confidence to continue planting and adding to their gardens.

Three different approaches:

There are three basic types of systems, identified by how the water is stored.
Cistern: A sealed, below-ground hole that is covered. By far the most common way to store water throughout the world.
Tank: Plastic or metal container placed in tight areas inside or outside of the home.
Flexible container: Flexible “pillow” manufactured to fit the storage space available, made of a heavy-duty reinforced polymer alloy commonly used by the military.

Your container should fill half-way with one inch of rainwater. Use this formula to estimate rain collection:

(roof length) x (roof width) x ( .625)
= water collected from one inch of rain

Four components
Each system is comprised of a rain collection surface (usually a roof), a filter, a storage container, and a pump system. Many customized extras also can be included.

Often overlooked, the rain collection surface is key to the succes of the design. This is most obvious when a 55 gallon rain barrel, matched with a 1,600 foot roof, quickly overflows. Or when it rains and the storage container doesn’t fill as expected. Either case reflects an unbalanced system design. To calculate the approximate amount of water that can be captured from a particular roof space, use the following formula: roof length x roof width x .625 equals water collected from one inch of rain. A good guideline should be to fill your container half-way from one inch of rain. For example a 900 sq. ft. roof is well balanced with a 1,000 gallon storage container.

Filter systems usually incorporate a debris filter, which is ideally placed between the collection surface and the storage container. The filter needs to be easily accessible for cleaning and efficient at removing roofing gravel from the collected water. An additional filter should be added after your pump connection if you are attaching the rainwater collection system to any present irrigation system.

The pump size is based on your needs and the volume of collected rainwater available. For example, a 900 sq. ft. roof with a 1,000 storage container fits with a half power pump to supplement the garden with hose-end watering and drip irrigation. Many pumps are available but be sure to get a pump that will turn off itself if the storage container runs dry.

Often I am asked if the Rainwater Pillow can be hooked up to a sprinkler irrigation system. The answer is yes, but more importantly will you have enough collected rainwater to support your needs? Most sprinkler systems pump 25-30 gallons of water per minute and that can quickly empty most storage containers. If you do have enough volume of water, the system also can be hooked up directly to your irrigation clock.

Rainwater collection systems are a necessary element for the landscaping industry and homeowner. The control gained by collecting rainwater and watering when it is convenient are huge selling points to my clients. I find that many people also just want to do their part to be green.  Water conservation and rainwater collection is our best option.

Rainwater Collection Solutions, Inc is proud to announce that the Rainwater Pillow Irrigation System has been recognized for its excellence by leaders in the green industry. The project received the Green Innovation award in the 2008 Professional Landscape Awards, presented by the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association (MALTA).

MALTA promotes professionalism, adherence to industry standards and education. The association’s annual Professional Landscape Awards program serves all three goals.


For more information, contact:
Jim Harrington
Rainwater Collection Solutions
Cell: 770-853-9918
Home: 770-667-9918
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