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Four Things to Know About Collecting Rainwater
One reason to pay attention to your gutter system: it might be a source of water you can reuse. Find out how with Groupon’s look at one aspect of green living.
1. In many places, someone owns the rain. Especially in climates where drought threatens, cities need to keep a tight watch over their water supplies, anticipating just how much will pour down from the skies and return to be pumped back into their treatment plants. In some parts of the country, rainwater collectors must own the land they collect rain from, and other states limit the amount an individual can collect. Even so, the average homeowner with a rain barrel tucked under the downspout or their mouth open in a thunderstorm won’t be breaking any laws.
2. Rain barrels can fill up fast. If a 1,000-square-foot house were equipped to harvest all the rain that fell on it during a 1-inch downpour, it would collect about 500 gallons of water (accounting for the 20% of water typically lost to absorption, leaks, and overflow). That could make a considerable dent in the average American’s daily usage of 80–100 gallons.
3. Rainwater can turn your hair green. Metaphorically, that is—in fact, washing your locks with rainwater can not only save water but also save your hair from harsh minerals and other additives found in tap water. (You may have noticed a similar softening effect after swimming in a freshwater lake.) For the same reason, rainwater can help gardens thrive and cars gleam.
4. In an ultra-green home, you might pour yourself a refreshing glass of rain. If a filtration and disinfection system is installed, rainwater collected in a cistern can be potable. Texas, Ohio, and Oregon specifically allow for this practice within certain guidelines. If that’s too much trouble, you can still use rain indoors: since it’s not necessary to use purified water in plumbing systems, environmentalists encourage flushing toilets with rainwater to avoid dipping into the drinking supply.