Many of us living in dry areas work to try to save our precious rainwater, but a California man is taking it to the extreme with his backyard rainwater harvesting system, capable of collecting and holding up to 20,000 gallons each year. His goal is to be able to store enough water during the rainy season to completely irrigate the crops he grows for himself and his wife on his one-acre lot.
Jerry Block, of Monte Sereno, CA, a retired anesthesiologist, had the system installed with components by Rain Harvesting Systems and Gutterglove, with four huge tanks to hold the water and a sophisticated gutter system to collect it, spending about $29,000 on the project.
“We sized our system according to how much water we’d need to grow enough trees, fruits and vegetables for two people. We get about 15 inches of rain, and we live on an acre of land, so that works out to about 20,000 gallons of irrigation water per year.” – Block
Block is only using his rainwater harvest to irrigate fruits and vegetables, not for consumption, but says a filtering system for the water could be built fairly inexpensively, and using the gray water for toilet flushing is another possibility he hasn’t implemented yet.
According to Block, his actions have “deep geo-political ramifications” because water is tied to energy production, and by being less dependent on water infrastructure, our dependency on foreign oil decreases.
“I see this as a patriotic act.” – Block
According to estimates from the EPA, an average American family of four uses about 400 gallons a day, so Block’s system could supply water for a typical family’s usage for 50 days at that rate. However, UNICEF estimates that a person could survive on a 5 gallon per day ration, so a 20,000 gallon tank has the potential to support 10 to 11 people for an entire year.