Rainwater Harvesting – A way to keep your garden alive during drought

by Helge Nome

This last spring I decided to conduct an experiment on my acreage located north of Sundre in the catchment of the Raven River, which is a tributary to the Red Deer River.

I have a shallow well with my pump sitting at about 45 feet below the surface in a 65 feet deep borehole and during the drought of 2000-2002 fine sand appeared in the water coming out of a tap. So, in response to the current drought I decided to see if it would be possible to rely on rainwater, rather than well water, if push comes to shove.

The results were very encouraging: From a total roof area of some 148 square meters I managed to collect enough rainwater to grow a respectable crop of vegetables in pots and end up the growing season with about 8000 liters of fresh water stored in three above-ground inflatable swimming pools. And that was from a total recorded rainfall of 311mm (or 12 inches), which is the kind of rainfall you get in deserts.

Doing the calculation on the amount of rainwater actually shed from my roof surfaces gave a surprising result: 46,000 liters of water! I probably collected about half of that amount over the summer.

So now I have 3 semi-frozen swimming pools containing some 8000 liters of water, waiting to thaw out in the spring, to start next year’s gardening venture.”