January 7, 2016

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘water harvesting?’ Do you imagine a giant cistern collecting water? Can you envision a complicated system of pipes leading from your roof to your outdoor landscape?

If so, you are completely right! What you may not realize is that there are some very simple ways that you can utilize rainwater for your everyday life.


  • Plant a garden next to an outdoor shed to take advantage of rainwater runoff from the roof.
  • Observe where rainwater naturally pools in your yard after a storm — that’s where you could plant a new tree.
  • Use gravity to move rainwater by leveraging the natural slope of your yard. By digging small channels and creating collection basins, you can direct water to the areas where it will be most available to plants.
  • Purchasing or constructing a simple rain chain can help guide rainwater to a harvesting barrel or natural collection area in your landscape.

The key to rainwater harvesting is to slow the water down, spread the water throughout your landscape, and allow it to sink into the ground where it feeds plants and recharges the water table. Make sure to observe your yard and start small. Build a system that can handle an extreme rain event to prevent flooding, and never direct water towards the foundation of your home.

Along with environmental benefits, rainwater has many practical uses, including being used for irrigation and gardening needs, washing your animal or car, or it can be purified to use for laundry or dish-washing. For more helpful resources, visit our rainwater harvesting page here.

To learn more, visit the Watershed Management Group’s website at watershedmg.org.

Shaina Shay is a Water Resource Analyst at EPCOR Water, one of fifteen Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs.