Rainwater Catchment System

Our area of Texas is in it’s third year of a bad drought. One of our ponds is nearly dry, and the other two are noticeably smaller than they were when we first saw them. It’s not pretty. We try to conserve as much water as possible. One of the first homestead projects that we’ve done is set up a rainwater catchment system.


We were lucky, our barn already had gutters set up. All we had to add was a large bendable pipe (we used sewage pipe) that we picked up at Home Depot. It ended up using $6 worth of pipe and another $3 worth of connectors.

Our local Farm Supply company sells 275 gallon totes for $180 + tax. I hate buying things for full price, so we started checking craigslist daily, hoping we could find a great deal.

About two weeks ago, we were driving into town and saw a house that had two 275 gallon water totes sitting outside with a phone number on them. We called, and ended up buying both of these totes for $50 each. We cleaned them and sterilized them very well, just to be safe. We put them on pallets, so when we use the water, gravity will create water pressure for us.

Eventually, we will connect the two totes, so we don’t have to go out and manually move the pipe from one to the other in the rain. But, for now – it’s a blessing to be able to use rain water to water the garden. The plants love it.


P.S. Please ignore the weeds and grass in the garden.

P.P.S. We ended up spending $110 on this project. After we fill up both totes 14 times, we will have recouped our investment. This number only accounts for the cash cost of water in our area, not the cost of taxes, meter fees, and the environmental cost of using city water when we could be using rain water. This was definitely a project that was worth doing.


3 thoughts on “Rainwater Catchment System

  1. I am working on something smaller scale right now. I never thought to use these totes, but at that cost, it would more than double the capacity of what I have planned. I have not looked into but was concerned about cleaning the tanks. any tips on keeping the water clean ?

    • We took our totes to a car wash and washed them out ourselves with dish soap and bleach. It seemed to work well. A pressure washer would work just as well. As for keeping the water clean, we don’t keep the black pipe in the totes unless it’s been raining enough to clean off the roof. We also have screens on both sides of the pipe that catch leaves and things that we might miss. I always add a little bleach to the water to prevent mildew and mold, but I’ve heard that darker colored totes don’t have the same problems with mold that lighter colored totes have. I’m doing a lot of this with trial and error, so if you find anything that works well, I’d love to hear about it.

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