Rudimentary Rain Catch
New York City isn’t exactly a desert, but any time you use tap water you’re also using the energy that it took to purify that water, so I’m trying to use rainwater as much as possible for irrigating my garden. Originally I just put a bunch of buckets out and hoped they would fill up, but that took up a lot of space and didn’t yield many gallons.
So I had to take more drastic measures – with a hack saw.
Cutting a small mouth-shaped hole out of the rain gutter that runs from the roof of my building down to the sewer proved to be surprisingly easy. I bought some nice metal clippers and a bit of gutter pipe from the hardware store and fashioned a little catch thingy (just look at the photo – it’s hard to describe), and set up a very sophisticated trash bin and window screen contraption to catch the water that comes off the roof.
The trash bin was in the basement of my building and much to my delight it didn’t have any holes or cracks in it, and last winter I had the foresight to save the screens from my old windows when they were putting in new ones. A little screen goes a long way when it comes to keeping cigarette butts (which often set up small communities on my roof) out and mosquitoes in.
I fashioned a sliding door to cover up the hole (when the barrel’s full) out of another piece of gutter and a metal strap. This system works alright, although some water does leak out when it’s raining. I may have to put a more effective door on there at some point – probably when my landlord finds out what I’ve done to his gutter and freaks out.
After the first spring thunderstorm my trash can rain barrel was full and overflowing. Now my only challenge is to find another barrel and hook it up to the system so I can catch more water. As for the quality of the water (is there soot on the roof? What about dog poo or pee from partying college students?) – I’m just not thinking about that. The water’s fine.