Man Installs 20,000 Gallon Rainwater Harvesting System in Backyard

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.

Rainwater Harvesting System
Rainwater Harvesting System

“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.

[Via MNN, LA Times, photo Robert Lenney]

Written by Derek Markham


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    • Municipal water planners actually use a figure of 100-150 gallons per person per day, so 400 isn’t even the top average estimate in some circles. It does of course vary by area, but those are unfortunately the currently estimated/generally accepted figures. Google “family water usage day average” if you want further confirmation.

      – Eds

  1. For indoor use, the average American uses about 50 gallons per day. However, if we add irrigation water to this estimate, it can indeed be nearly 100-150 gallons per day per person.

    Did you know that only 1% of the water treated to drinking water standards is actually consumed internally by people? I believe that in the near future, irrigating with purified drinking water from municipal grids will be highly restricted if not completely outlawed (especially in the driest climates).

  2. para el que este interesado, les voy a dar una primicia. tengo confeccionado la maquina que puede generar agua en cualquier lugar del planeta…. solo necesito una ayuda para construirla en escala y mas moderna..les escibro desde ARGENTINA.. CUNA DE MENTES INVENTORAS..

  3. Great Stuff! Thank you Sir for caring! off-gridders the world over know that educated, science backed, technology assisted systems and methods will eventually reward us with an Off-Grid lifestyle superior to the current realities! Once totally liberated from the lower of Maslow’s concerns, we can go about resolving, in intelligent fashion, without military force in most cases, the problems besetting mankind all these millenia! Corrupt psycho-consumerism by the masses in America has polluted the Earth, and other nations copy this folly! We must set a better example, through endeavors such as yours, and expose them on the net if possible, and especially to the larger, English, Asian audience there, to resolve mankind’s greatest dilemmas, and move on even to communication to those perhaps beyond this earth and the stars! Peace on Earth first! and planned DNA controlled parenthood for all! A new world is dawning! The true Age of Aquarius is upon us! The fourth turning for America , well underway! and war will be banished, intelligent design to reign! You, Sir, and your effort in your garden a harbinger of what is to come! Thank you again!

  4. The man definitely knows what he wants. It is this kind of outside the box thinking that gets the most criticism.

    Bottom line, he’s storing enough water during the rainy season to completely irrigate the crops he grows for himself and his wife…what could possibly be wrong with that?

  5. Our family has been using a similar system since 1994. I it was built in the early 1980s by a previous owner. It collects rainwater from the house and barn roofs, collecting in a small 1200 gal cistern, and then is pumped up the hill to 110,000 gal poured concrete tank, then flows back down hill to give us (admittedly low) water pressure. The water is used for all purposes, including drinking. The house has comp shingle roofing, the barn metal roofing, standard galv and plastic gutters and downspouts are used. Using sediment and taste filters, we have not had a problem with quality. If the taste filter is removed, the water can taste like smoke from the fire. We don’t usually use the filters.

    Waterfilterreview asked what could be wrong with this, in concept, nothing. In California and many other states, all ground water belongs to the state, and in some places collecting rain water can be illegal. We should not let this level of regulation come to pass!

  6. We’ve been saving our rainwater for years so I’m glad to hear of others doing it. I’ve built three 10,000 gallon tanks and 4 others 5000 gallons or less out of ferrocement. The latest tank has a root cellar attached. You can see pix at my blog
    on the right hand sidebar
    More people should do this!

  7. While I applaud these efforts, 29k is simply too much money for 20k gallons per year for this project to be considered sustainable.
    This 29k could have done a lot of good things for water conservation if spent in other ways.

  8. It’s too bad that given in at least a few states that I can think of, rain water is actually property of the state; owned from the ground and up, so to speak. For example, in Colorado (where I’m from) if caught actively collecting rain water, you can actually be prosecuted.

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