Keeping it in the Shed

Restoring the level of our water table is a major issue for New Mexico. Standard backyard gardening practices often use water in unsustainable ways. One recent trend is rainwater collection. By collecting rain water we prevent runoff and are able to provide plants an early start with water that’s perfectly good. In addition, the water that is absorbed slowly increases the water table.

Why does this matter? New Mexico is in a near constant state of drought, and a few rainfalls of just 1” inch can easily fill a massive tank of rainwater. The process isn’t as complex as one would think, but it does take some work. This blog is designed to give you some inspiration on how to set up your rain water collection system and help you through a little bit of the process. Some of these steps can seem daunting, but you can always ask a friendly neighbor for assistance.

Picking a location for your water tank should be fairly straight forward; the side of the house where you have the most water drainage can help you with that choice. Before you go further though ask your neighborhood association for any bylaws or prior agreements that might prevent you from doing such an installation. Certain states even restrict rainwater collection. So first, make sure it’s legal.

These equations will help you figure out how much water you’ll be able to harvest. There are a few basic things you need to know when first planning your rain water collection. The first is the catchment area, taking into to consideration everything from the slope of the roof to the amount of rain water that you can actually harvest.

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After you’ve figured out the catchment area it’s onto the next challenge which is the gutters and downspout, or conveyance. You need to figure out the sizing of your gutters and downspouts so you know how much water they can handle. There’s plenty of information on rainwater collection systems at the Texas A&M Agrilife website. The systems manual contains all the information you need on how to plan for your spouts.

Rainwater is incredibly vital to the environment. Collecting it retains runoff and helps the water table increase. Making sure you have enough water for your garden is dependent on nature, but nature usually provides what we need. Collecting this water is a good way to help your garden and help the environment. When the growing season comes around you’ll have water ready to go and can seed your plants early for a great start. The benefits of using rainwater are many, and even though it takes some time and money to set up depending on the size of your tank and what you want to do.

While you’re at it you can check out using grey water and how that will help your water usage even more. The legality of rain water in New Mexico is perfectly acceptable to collect it. Up to 250 gallons per day you’re allowed to use the rainwater on your garden and many other things (anything more needs a permit). It’s not only great for the environment, it’s actively encouraged.

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