Leak Masters Water Conservation Tip of the Month: Storing Rainwater

Here in Seattle, we’ve had a record amount of rainfall over the last few weeks. Rainy days like last Wednesday always have us thinking about how to best contain rainwater to avoid flooding while conserving water.


Storing rainwater and avoiding flooding are great ways to conserve water

First, of course, it helps to have a rain-friendly yard. You can choose shrubs and groundcover for steep or isolated areas. Find the areas where water tends to run by observing the runoff during a storm, and plant water-friendly plants in that area- cranberry does well in poor-draining areas, as do irises, though we suggest investigating moisture-friendly plants that are native to your area. In general, exchanging grass lawns for plants that are more acclimated to your area can help a lot, and spreading mulch or living groundcovers around plants can help minimize the need for watering (and weeding!). Aerating your lawn can help with water conservation. You can also make your paved areas more permeable by exchanging cement driveways for gravel or consider putting paved driveway strips in instead of a full cement drive.

While it is a lot of work to create a great rain barrel storage system, the savings make it worthwhile over a long period of time. Seattle gets 5.8 inches of rain in November, on average, and a 1000 sf house that was only catching half of its rain could get 150 gallons of rain with just a half inch rain event. Rainwater can be stored in 40+ gallon tanks, which can be bought on Craiglist or Amazon for $20-50 apiece. The savings to your water bill will add up over time, though slowly, and reduces the load on your city’s water treatment infrastructure. Seattle even offers rebates to homeowners who are setting up rain barrels, cisterns and rain gardens for precipitation collection, and Portland is among other municipalities that offer credits- look into your local government for any assistance with water conservation projects.

Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are a simple way to store excess rainwater

Between strategically using plantings and pavement in your yard to maximize water permeation into the soil, and maximizing runoff collection, you can do your part to help save one of the Pacific Northwest’s most abundant and wonderful resources. We’d love to hear your strategies for conserving and storing rainwater- please share any additional tips in the comments!

Photo Credits: mxgirl85roger_mommaerts