March 2010 home page

  Drops for Dry Days
Dolores Davies Jamison | Crest Road
Richard Jamison | Crest Road

• Always wait for the rains to clean your roof of pollutants and organic materials before collecting rainwater for storage.

• Heavy-duty, 44-gallon Brute trash cans can be purchased at Home Depot; tank valve/garden hose adaptor can be purchased at Grangetto’s; portable utility pumps are available at Grainger.

• If you are not collecting rainwater in containers, try to divert uncollected rainwater into your yard to pond and soak in, instead of letting it run out into the street.

In an El Niño year, when it rains it really does pour. Isn’t it a shame to lose so much water to the storm drains in our water-scarce region? Some Del Mar residents have decided to try to capture and store this manna from heaven to reduce water usage and supplement watering during the dryer parts of the year.

San Diego’s tap water is notoriously salty: 300 parts per million for tap water versus a meter reading of zero for rainwater. Regular irrigation leads to high levels of plant damaging salts in our soil, which are effectively purged by rainwater and all plants benefit greatly from rainwater, especially acid- loving plants like Azaleas and Japanese maples. My husband, Richard, has been collecting and storing rainwater since we completed our landscaping approximately 15 years ago. He designed a series of masonry gutters at ground level that empty into a gravel creek bed that traverses our yard, and began collecting rainwater by positioning large trash cans under the sheet metal valleys on our roof where rainwater is channeled.

Photo Ralph Jamison

Photo Ralph Jamison                         Photo Ralph Jamison

After researching various storage options, he purchased used 50-gallon drums from a local soap manufacturer.. He also bought a small portable utility pump for pumping the water out of the storage drums, which are situated both above and below ground. A trash can equipped with a tank valve with a garden hose adapter is used to fill the underground drums.

“Rainwater harvesting should be considered primarily as a useful way to improve the health of your plants,” says Richard. “It would be difficult and expensive to store enough rainwater to notably reduce the water bill for a typical residential lot without substantial pre-construction planning. Still, every bit of water is helpful during a drought and we should take advantage of a valuable natural resource when it’s freely available.”

Photo Laura Walker

Laura Walker, who resides on 7th Street, also started saving rain water several years ago. Co-president of the Friendship Garden Club, she was also motivated in part by providing better water to her plants and hoped to cut down on her water bill. Laura initially put in a 75-gallon barrel where the rain drained from a broken gutter. She also collected water in buckets and stored them in the garage. Unfortunately, all the gutters had either broken or fallen off, but presented an excellent opportunity to install a more comprehensive collection and storage system.

“I had been looking at rain collection systems for a couple of years,” said Walker. “I researched several companies, got bids and contacted one that specializes in gutters and rain collection systems. They helped me set up a system that was both attractive and customized for my yard. I just love it, I don’t have to run out in the rain and change the buckets when they are full!”


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