The best thing about a month of rain? 500+ gallons of rain water collected!

It has finally stopped raining in Anchorage for a day or two now. What we thought would be an adequate catchment of rain water this fall, turned into an urgent need to expand our rain water catchment system a few weeks ago. This weeks blog post is all about harvesting rain water.

Harvesting rain water:

Our rain water catchment was built this June with the intent of storing about 200 gallons of rain. Once the rain started in late July it didn’t stop. We expanded our systems singular 250-gallon rain water collection tank once the first was full by adding a second tank.  We realized the rain wasn’t going away any time soon and with the intermittent weather patterns we have been having might as well capture it when it is coming. Thanks AWWU (Alaska Water and Wastewater Utility) for the tanks, we have definitely put them to good use.


Above: Photo of the pipe connecting our two rainwater tanks.


How it works:

Our rain water catchment is fairly simple:  gutters under the metal roof of our 12×24 cabin send rain water to the back side of the cabin. In back of our cabin is where the rain is collected. A first flush was installed on each side of the house. The first flush fills up first before water flows into the rain water collection tank. The water collected by the first flush has the most opportunity to be contaminated with grim, bird poop, and other particulates that may have accumulated on the roof between rain events. Rain water continues to collect in our gutters, flowing over the full first flush and into our 250 gallon tanks.


Image of how a first flush works. Source:


Restarting with Rain water/how water goes into our water reuse system:

With over 500 gallons of rain harvested since late July, restarting our system this week with rain water seemed like the natural thing to do (see blog bubbles bubbles bubbles to read about our temporary system shut down). Armed with a drill pump and a 50-foot garden hose, we filled our conex with rain water by filtering the rain water thru the cabin: the water first goes thru a bag filter and 1-micron filter before heading into the conex. We have found that adding water to the treatment system is most easily achieved by pouring water in the laundry water collection tank and into the shower.


Photo of a drill pump in use. Source:

Using different source waters:

We are testing our reuse water system using three different source waters: Anchorage tap water, rain water and water from Chester Creek that flows through UAA campus. In doing so we will test the wash water quality based on the different water sources that a homeowner in a rural community may choose to put into their system (i.e. washeteria water, rain water, river or creek water).

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