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Rainwater Harvesting for Central Texas

Dry Creeks can help divert water from the foundation of your home.
Dry Creeks can help divert water from the foundation of your home.

Tis' the season to be frugal.

Necessity is truly the mother of invention. With economic and resource scares,  the sense around is that we need to tighten our belts, as well as out faucets and hoses.

Everyday, more and more people move to Austin, San Antonio and their respective burbs. For the past ten years or so, these booming metropolises have consistently made top ten lists for fastest growing cities in the U.S. It is painfully obvious that our region can't sustain the amount of water we demand. Last summer was a sobering reminder of how fickle our watershed is in Central Texas. Despite the past few months liberal watering, lake levels remain low.  

The good part is that we live in an era in which people and governments are wising up to technologies, policies and processes to try and curb this over consumption. As slow as these changes may seem, there is definitely a booming sense about it.

Many experts are saying that the best route to take with regards to any resource is the more efficient use by individuals, families and businesses. Consciously using less of our resources, and using them wiser. This includes installing water saving devices like low flush toilets, faucet aerators, efficient appliances, hot water circulators and xeriscaping. Of great importance also is to simply use less water than we are used to. Taking shorter showers and washing dishes with conservation in mind can go a long way to save money and precious water. 

Storm water which runs off our roofs can be efficiently stored outside our homes for use in lawn and garden watering (and if you're really savvy, for greywater functions). Figuring out how much water your roof could potentially collect is easy. A good rule of thumb is that for every inch of rainfall on a single square foot of roof, a little over a half a gallon of water can be collected. To put this in perspective, if your roof is 1000 sq. ft.. during a one inch rain event, you can collect about 600 gallons of water.  That's eight 75 gallon rain barrels filled to the brim after only one rain. If one utilized other lawn and garden conservation techniques, this could conceivably last you several vegetative seasons.

Creative landscape design can also be done on the cheap and provide us with beautiful yard settings that perform lasting function. Faux, dry creeks can add a touch of natural beauty to your yard with the added bonus of diverting water from the foundation of your home.  Natural holding ponds situated away from the foundation have many potential uses. If one were so inclined adding fish and plants to a holding pond has the added advantage of cultivating nutrients to add to your lawn and garden.

Rainwater harvesting systems come in many shapes and sizes and can fit into almost any budget. The city provides rebates for each barrel over 75 gallons. Barrels purchased almost anywhere are eligible for the city's rebates. Normally barrels can be purchased through the city, but currently the city is out of them. However, rebate applications can still be downloaded from their site.

*** Here are a few of the businesses around town that sell barrels and complete rainwater systems***

Austin's Craigslist is a great source for cheap recycled barrels. Always ask what the barrels were previously used for.

(Oak Barrels and Large-scale systems)

(EcoWise... $10 off)

(City of Austin... Sorry, Out of Barrels)

(Recycled Metal Barrels)

(Plastic-Mart... Plastic Barrels)


  • Chris Maxwell-Gaines 5 years ago

    Thanks for promoting rainwater collection in your post. One thing to remember is the collection efficiency of a rain barrel. While you can collect a lot of rainwater from a large roof area, you will only end up with 55 gallons or so after the rain event.

    While a rain barrel is great for small irrigation needs (potted plants, etc), they don't provide enough water to become a part of the overall water conservation solution for an entire residential lot. When people are using 1000s of gallons of water during each irrigation cycle, you can see a 55 gallon rain barrel really doesn't make a dent in this usage.

    Larger rainwater collections systems can easily be integrated into urban and suburban lots. To find out more about these larger systems, check out

  • mw1116 5 years ago

    Great advise, I find myself looking for more and more ways to conserve and reading your articles have helped immensely in finding new ways of doing things without having to do so much research myself. Thank you.

  • Gary Thompson 5 years ago

    My wife and I bought 3 triple units from Green Water here in town and love them! We just saw them in Countryside Nursery and were glad to hear others are loving them too.

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