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By Roz Rogoff

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.