5 Reasons to Collect Rainwater

rainwater from downspout into bucket

5 Reasons to Collect Rainwater
Even if SoCo Reservoirs are Full

By Kellen Watson

While the reservoirs in Sonoma County are full or close to full, here are 5 reasons why swales, rain gardens, rain tanks & barrels, curb cuts, and permeable surfaces are still critically important – plus info about a free workshop to get some hands-on learning experience.

1) Emergency Preparedness

Living in an earthquake-prone area of the world means each home needs to take extra precautions to ensure adequate staple supplies in the event of an emergency. Rain tanks or barrels can provide a vitally important, large source of high quality water. While current regulations relegate rainwater to irrigation use only, the water in tanks and barrels is actually quite clean and can be easily filtered or boiled to produce potable quality water in the case of a broken water main or other disaster.

2) Ultimately, Rainwater Harvesting Saves Money through Flood Control & Storm Water Pollution Prevention

Because the percentage of hard, impermeable surfaces in Sonoma County has increased significantly over the years, rain water tends to run off the land quickly and cause river and ocean pollution, erosion, and flooding. Many gutters flow directly to stormwater drains, so thousands of gallons of water rush straight to local waterways, picking up contaminates from roadways, parking lots, and yards as it goes. This water is UNTREATED when it hits the waterways, and often washes out young salmon and erodes away creek walls. The repairs for these problems, including flood cleanup, road issues, and habitat restoration projects, are very costly and are usually funded in one way or another by taxpayer dollars. Anything we can do to slow, spread, sink, and store water, before it becomes problematic runoff, reduces pressure on our environment and ultimately saves money, even if there is some up front cost.

3) Plants Grow Better with Rainwater!

Have you ever noticed how plants appear greener and brighter after a good rain? It’s not just because the dust and dirt get washed off. Rainwater is a clean, salt-free source of water that contains many beneficial minerals and even microorganisms for plants. Microscopic particulates in the air, including beneficial bacteria, provide structure for clouds to condense around, forming raindrops. When these drops fall, plants flourish, in part because plants have evolved to thrive in partnership with rain’s micro-ingredients. Studies have even shown that seeds watered with rainwater have significantly higher germination rates and more vigor than those watered with tap water.

4) Improves Your Soil

Rain is naturally distilled through evaporation prior to cloud formation making it one of the purest sources of water. This means that it’s one of the best ways to dilute salt buildup in our soils, which occurs through the application of irrigation water. Think about all the gunk that builds up on your shower head; that stuff can be toxic to soil life and your plants’ roots. Rainwater helps break up these salts and wash them into the deep soil layer past the root zone.

5) Recharges Groundwater

Traditionally, rain falls and seeps underground to become groundwater in aquifers and/or it feeds rivers or lakes. However, the concrete, asphalt and land grading of cities has disrupted this cycle. Even on big, open farms, 150 years of compaction under the hooves of large animals can prevent water from soaking in. To ensure an adequate supply of groundwater in the future, it is important that we create as many opportunities as possible for rainwater to infiltrate the ground. Great options include rain gardens, swales, curb cuts, and removing impermeable surfaces at our homes properties, businesses or along our city streets.

Because of climate change, we don’t know whether CA will experience increased drought or deluge winters, or both. Either way, collecting rainwater makes a lot of sense. Daily Acts will be hosting a free Rainwater Harvesting Presentation on the evening of March 24th, and a free hands-on

Rain Barrels Workshop in Sebastopol on April 9th.

Sign up at dailyacts.org or call (707)789-9664!

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