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How creative can you get with rainwater harvesting?

Posted by Aderanti Kudehinbu on 7 September 2016 at 9:40 am

Rainwater harvesting doesn’t have to start and end with installing a water butt at the end of a drainpipe so you can water your garden. We interviewed Adrian Pickering to find out more about the creative ways he is collecting and reusing rainwater in his home and how you can get started on a similar journey.

Getting started

Given its name, it’ll come as no surprise that rainwater harvesting systems collect rainwater that freely falls from the sky. This typically means taking advantage of the water that drops on the roof of your home. But what are the vital components that you’ll need in order to tap into our stereotypical British weather and start harvesting all that rain?

As Adrian explained to us, the basic equipment you’ll need to get started include a suitable roof guttering system and down pipes and a means of filtering to keep your harvested water free from unwanted sediment and fallen leaves. Adrian uses two 350 litre storage tanks to store his water and has found that this provides enough for his uses. The tanks are fed with calmed and filtered water from a stilling tower (see picture). When the tanks overflow the water goes into the soakaway underneath which safely transports the overflow water back to the natural ground system.

Photo: The stilling tower and the first rainwater tank

Photo: part of the guttering system leading to the balcony storage.

Things to consider and how to maximise the benefits

From Adrian’s experience the main points he believes you should consider before embarking on your own harvesting journey are the availability of “space, shade and ventilation”. With the help of his builders during his house extension project, space was created which could house the commercially-available water storage tanks that Adrian chose. These were then arranged to take advantage of the shade his balcony provides and ensure cross-flow to maintain water freshness.

So now you’ve harvested your water how are you going to maximise the benefits? Adrian explained how the gravity that initially transported the recycled water into his home often lacked enough water pressure to effectively serve the functions of his washing machine. To overcome this a regenerative shower pump was bought to increase the pressure delivered. Rainwater is naturally soft so less detergent is needed and all problems associated with lime scale are kept at bay. Along with the environmental benefits of using a natural resource, Adrian is making savings by substituting his own rainwater for metered water and avoiding the associated sewerage charge. Adrian also has a separate system that uses the ground water to flush the toilets.

Want to learn more? Come and find out!

Adrian has proven how a simple harvesting system can be used to retrofit existing homes, whilst yielding the benefits of the often unfavourable British weather.  To learn more about rainwater harvesting and other energy efficient technologies, take a free tour of Adrian’s Southampton home for free between 8 - 11 Sep.  A home viewing with a guided tour will allow you to quiz him and get frank feedback on what worked and anything that didn’t. To receive full details including directions, register your place in advance at

Also See:
Rainwater Harvesting Q&A with Adrian Pickering Aug 2016


More information about rain water harvesting on YouGen.

Find a rain water harvesting system installer.

Need help with any Jargon?

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one


richmcComment left on: 6 April 2017 at 8:10 am

Lucky for me I moved home.

The new place as I said has unmetered water, I have a septic tank for waste and run off water dosen't feed into the sewer. So all they can charge me for is the assessed water useage.

Even though I could just "leave the taps running" and water the garden that way I do have half a dozen water butts that hold around 700L, enough for the garden and washing the cars.

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richmcComment left on: 29 September 2016 at 10:09 am

South West Water, wanted to charge me to use the collected water!  But after getting my local MP invovled they backed down, they actually wanted me to have a second water meter fitted, but as my MP pointed out they had incured no cost to themselves, they had no right to charge me.

The next year they introduced an assessed sewerage charge for those with RWH, luckily I moved!

My new home has no meter but it has a natural well. SWW refused to install a meter as the stopcock (the say) is too close to the road, I whould have recomisioned the well and used SWW as back up. After the refusal I refused to pay my water rates, after a while they agreed to put us on assessed charge, very cheap compared to domestic charge. This meant there was no financial incentive for me to use the well, so SWW have cut off their nose to spite their face. I use as much water as I want, it may sound selfish but it's what the water company has made me do.

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Malcolm M

Malcolm MComment left on: 29 September 2016 at 12:10 am

Adrian says using recovered rainwater avoids " the associated sewerage charge" but this is unlikely to be true in the longer term. Whilst the sewerage charge is largely based on metered water use the water authority is entitled to recover the costs associated with treating ALL your waste water not just tthe water which  was metered entering your property..

It is likely that sometime in the future your water supplier will discover your rainwater harvesting system and the associated waste water therefrom, and charge you accordingly, including a charge for previous years  

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