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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Rainwater walls and rainwater saucers

Uploaded: Sep 8, 2011
In my last blog I provided some reasons for capturing and storing your rainwater. Now I'll provide some suggestions on how to do it.

I have two large rain barrels on both sides of my house. These are behind fences, so they are not too visible from the street, but they do take up a lot of space. One pair holds 2500 gallons for laundry and the other holds 3100 gallons to water my front yard over the summer. Both sets are connected to covered gutters to keep out debris and capture water from my roof to feed into the barrels.

Not everyone has covered gutters or a roof or a big yard. So I've come across some alternatives that serve dual purposes, look more attractive, and don't need to take up as much space.

One of these alternatives I'm trying to get my neighbor to invest in is a rainwater wall. That sounds like something with a fake mountainside and water flowing down it like a room at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, but it's really a way to turn a fence into rainwater storage.

I contacted Contain Rainwater Systems in San Diego about replacing the 72' wooden fence between my yard and my neighbor's to the North with a complete rainwater wall. This would require 27 Slim Line water tank, each holding up to 72 gallons of water, but at a cost comparable to a new wooden replacement fence. My neighbor could use most of the water, but I need some in the back of my yard which is too far to connect to my gutters. That's why I was interested in RainSaucers.

When I first saw that word on the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) website and the address of the company in San Ramon, I knew I had to contact them for a future Observer blog (this one now). RainSaucers sound like something I'd put outside for my cats to drink rainwater from, but they are large cones to capture rain where it needs to be stored so rain barrels do not have to be located near a gutter or downspout. I thought this was a creative idea and I like that it is a new startup in San Ramon.

I contacted the owner, Tom Spargo, and we chatted on the phone. I told him about my rainwater collection systems and asked if his RainSaucers worked with a Rainwater Wall. He said his RainSaucers can work with any rain barrel and has photos on his website with a Rainwater Hog, which is similar to (but not as attractive as) the Contain Slim Line tank.

So now I'm waiting for my neighbor to decide if he wants a rainwater wall or a conventional fence. He's not sure how safe it would be to install potentially heavy rain barrels between the houses. When full each barrel would weigh almost 600 lbs.

The representative from Contain Rainwater Systems said they would deliver and install the barrels for about the cost of the barrels alone. I like the idea of giving business to California companies, especially a local one like RainSaucers, and maybe even start a new trend in San Ramon.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Eric Wallis, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Hi Roz:

Your blog contains this:

"One pair holds 2500 gallons for laundry and the other holds 3100 gallons to water my front yard over the summer. Both sets are connected to covered gutters to keep out debris and capture water from my roof to feed into the barrels."

Did you really mean 25 gallon and 31 gallon cans? 2500 gallons is a lot of water.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Yup, that's why those barrels are so big. Water takes up a lot of space. That's what's so great about the Rainwater Wall. It can be put in the space of a standard fence and hold up to 2000 gallons.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Garrett Connelly, a resident of another community,
on Sep 9, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I would like to hear what you think of this chapter on rainwater harvesting ...

Web Link ... rainwater

the entire manual is free to read on the web and can be purchased for individuals or technical schools here

Web Link


Garrett Connelly

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


Thanks for the links. I have not see this book before. It is primarily on constructing ferrocement tanks. That's another option for rainwater collection and containment. I see that you are the author. Nice job.

I probably won't buy the book, but I'll read the chapter online.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Sep 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


What you describe is a lot like my laundry system, which uses filters and UV light to help sanitize the water. I posted a video on Youtube about my [Web Link] laundry system.

The system on the other side of my house uses shorter but fatter barrels and a small first-flush debris tank very similar to the one you describe in your book.

This just goes to show there are many different ways to collect, store, and use rainwater.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sam Franklin, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

It would be nice to also include some smaller scale options. For example, not all rain barrels have to be so big. This is a nice 55 gallon tank that is really well designed. You so still have to give it a little platform so it doesn't sink in the mud but it takes up a lot less space. Web Link

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