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Rain catching 101

August 10, 2010

Last year I thought a rain barrel might be nice, so I started looking for cheap surplus food grade 55 gallon barrels. I found some for $16 a piece in Atlanta and sort of bought all I could fit in my truck. If once would be nice, 6 would be fantastic, right?

I gave one to a master gardener friend as a thank you and was left with 5 blue barrels that smelled of grape juice concentrate. Apparently I had already subconsciously decided that this would be a fine overreaching summer project for a July’s 95 degree heat. Shortly thereafter I set off to design a system to catch the rain from my roof and efficiently deliver it to my garden 75 or so feet away.

Things I didn’t think about when I was hauling the barrels back that day:

First, just how would I align the barrels?
Cascading in series had its problems- I decided right away I couldn’t do this.
Parallel systems would allow for all barrels to fill and drain at the same level at the same time and therefore would be the most efficient and easiest to use.

Second, how to get the water to the garden? How much fall did I have and would that generate sufficient pressure? And what is the difference between pressure and flow rate and which would be most important in my applications?

Third, how much rain would it take to fill the barrels if I could design and install a functional system? Would it even be worth it in the sporadic but often heavy rainfall of Georgia summers?

Fourth, how would I handle the overflow?

While I worked all this out in my head, I stacked the barrels back out of the way where I was certain Mrs cohutt wouldn’t see them.

Uh… she did though….

Next: design considerations and beginning the installation.

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