Living Sustainably

Aquaponics | Rain Harvesting | Composting | Other Green Products

Free Solar Panels?

Hard to believe, but it’s true. We are sending a free 12w 48v solar panel and fan with every order of two ebooks. Perfect as attic fans or solar air heaters.

Get our DIY Solar, Rainwater harvesting, DIY Methane or other ebooks, and we will send you a free solar panel and fan as a thank you.

Merry Christmas!


New Rainwater Harvesting & Cistern Sizing Calculators

Years ago we built a web page explaining how to calculate how many gallons of water you can collect from your roof, and how to size a cistern to store it. Now we have made it interactive. Please enjoy the following calculators:

Rainwater Harvesting Calculator
Cistern Sizing Calculator

Check out our complete series of eBooks on rainwater harvesting, storage, filtration, and solar heating.


Water for Life

An excellent free booklet from Hesperian on how to obtain water, store it, and make/keep it clean.

This booklet provides practical guidance on the most important “how to” questions dealing with access to water. It highlights, among other issues, what can be done to make water safe for drinking and cooking, and how to protect groundwater resources, collect rainwater, and store water safely.


Conserving Water with Greywater Irrigation

We have been advocates of water conservation for many years. The usual plan is to harvest rain with your gutters and a cistern, install water saving appliances, and using your greywater for irrigation. As we install composting waterless toilets instead of flush toilets, which make up almost half the typical non-irrigating home’s water consumption, the only wastewater left is greywater, and can be used to irrigate plants. Irrigation is the number one water consuming process in many homes. Art Ludwig has written a number of books on harvesting and conserving water, and has a new DVD out on recycling your greywater for irrigation purposes. Check out the free preview at

Additional references:

The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, Third Edition

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape

The New Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems – Includes Branched Drains


Englert Building Integrated Solar Thermal, PV and Rainwater Harvesting

The folks at Englert have a novel system that integrates a solar thermal system with their standing seam metal roofs (up to 35 year warranty), and offers a PV option. Produce your solar heated water for heating (hydronic) and domestic hot water, produce grid tied power, and harvest rain water for toilet, laundry and irrigation. Check out their system at Englert Environmental.

What we do on the roof is important because what happens below the roof is critical. More than a decade ago, we began imagining the roofing systems architects, builders and homeowners could use to face their most common environmental challenges.

Imagine a roofing system that protects your home or building, keeping it cool in summer, warm in winter and providing all the hot water and electricity you require.

Now envision a roofing system that captures 95 percent of its rainwater runoff, channels it through a debris-proof gutter system and deposits it in a rainwater harvesting tank for immediate use.

Today Englert Environmental is a leading provider of renewable energy solutions where metal roofing and gutters systems play a critical role in collecting solar energy and harvesting rainwater.

Partnering with key technology and service providers, including the foremost photovoltaic, inverter and mounting solution providers and the nation’s principal source of commercial and residential rain water harvesting systems, Englert provides world leading, best-of-breed technology, products and services.


Water Shortages

It’s been a mighty dry month or so. The well has been intermittent at best, and the water quality is substandard. We have been drinking bottled water ($0.25 / gallon in 5 gallon jugs), and limiting our water usage, but it’s time to put in the cistern we have been delaying. I dug up a couple of Amazon gift certificates, and ordered the best books I could find on rain water harvesting and storage. We will be drilling a DIY well on Oct. 25th, so take a look at A local concrete company will deliver into our hole, a 1000 gallon precast concrete cistern for $600. The last item we will need is a Aermotor Wind Pump to top the new well, and fill the cistern, which will also be fed from the roof gutters. Next years Green House will take the outflow of our greywater and use subsurface irrigation for our vegetables. This will require biofriendly cleaners, no chemicals, and careful analysis of what goes down our drains.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape – Update: One of the best I’ve ever read. Highly Recommended. Very readable, understandable, and applicable.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 2): Water-harvesting Earthworks – Update: Won’t be available until January 2008. Volume 3 on cisterns and tanks is even further out. If they are as good as Volume 1, they will be awesome. See

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks – Update: Fantastic reference, also a good read, and yet easily implemented.

Rainwater Catchment Systems for Domestic Supply: Design, Construction and Implementation – Update: Another required reference. Lots of background material.

New Addition:

The New Create an Oasis With Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systms – Includes Branched Drains – Art has a way of relating of relaying knowledge to the reader/implementer that is never “Dry”, and easily understandable.

We will be discussing the details of this project as we progress at, and keeping folks up to date here at as well.

Also see Dew harvesting and Rain Barrels.


Harvesting Rainwater

*You will be shocked at how much water you can collect from rainwater harvesting*

Most people are not aware of the fact that a colossal amount of water can be collected from rainwater harvesting efforts. In fact there are rainwater harvesting systems that take care of the water needs of large households throughout the year. Most would find this very difficult to believe but it is a fact.

All one needs is a well designed rain harvesting system, complete with adequate rain harvesting storage tanks.

It is actually amazing that while many parts of the world are facing such serious water problems, on the other hand colossal amounts of rainwater that would otherwise have been harvested and put to good use, are going to waste. Plenty of rain falls, the water is drained away, some evaporates and we are still left with our huge water-scarcity-related problems.

Rainwater tends to be one of the purest sources of water available and also one of the healthiest which can also be easily and cheaply treated and even used for human consumption.

Few people are aware of the fact that an amazing 600 gallons of water per inch of rain per thousand square feet of catchment area can be harvested. This means that an area does not need to have a spectacular amount of rainfall to carry out successful rainwater harvesting that can meet most needs the whole year round.

And yet not all the rain that falls can be collected. There are several factors that affect the efficiency and reduce the amount of water collected. For example a small amount of rain will be needed to wet the roof and fill the roof washer. Secondly some of the rain tends to spill out of the gutters while still more rain overshoots the gutters. The other obvious factor that comes in is the fact that once the storage tanks in the rainwater harvesting system are full, all the additional rainwater will go to waste and cannot be collected.

Efficiency of the rainwater harvesting is usually estimated at being between 75% to 90%. Of course all this depends very much on the system design and its’ capacity.

It is clear that in years to come, rainwater harvesting is bound to become increasingly important. More so as our environment gets more and more polluted, thus endangering many of the other sources of water that we have come to rely on over the years. Increasing rainwater harvesting seems to be the only available long term solution we have.

The writer of this article Aaron Pratt has a Rainwater Harvesting Guide that covers anything related to rainwater harvesting recycling and reuse.

Chat about Rainwater Harvesting


The International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance

Maison Internationale de l’Environnement II, Chemin de Balexert 7-9
CH-1219 Châtelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 22 797 41 57 / 58 Fax: +41 22 320 88 57

E-mail: Web site:

Newsletter no. 7 – May 2005

“Put Rainwater Harvesting in Integrated Water Resources Management”

Dear 1451 Rainwater Harvesters,

This edition includes information on:

a.. The Speaker of the Indian Parliament setting a good RWH Example
b.. Gender & Water Alliance visit to the IRHA Secretariat
c.. A Special Call for Research on Water and Food
d.. Cloud seeding in Thailand
e.. A new report on food security highlighting the need for Rainwater Harvesting
f.. International Secretariat for Water visit to the IRHA Secretariat
g.. A small victory for RWH, but.
h.. A Visit by Future Nigerian Rainwater Harvesters to the IRHA Secretariat
i.. A New Publication
j.. Dates for your diary
k.. The rhythms of rainwater

For more info, see the Rainwater Harvesting Group and the Green-Trust Rainwater Harvesting forum.