Rainwater Collection

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Water is life, and in 2023, we are sharing rainwater collection solutions with you! You will be 100 percent aware of the best tank and rain barrel designs, as well as the DIY and commercial ways of water harvesting. You will learn that this precious substance is everywhere — water catchment, rainfall, and even soil can bring cubic meters of drinking water and water for irrigation. How? Read the article and learn more!

Do you need to set a rainwater collection system in your survival location?

The answer is obvious — yes!

Water is an essential element of our everyday consumption as the body will not survive without it for more than four days.

Imagine a disaster in your city when the panic gripped the people, and everyone is trying to provide themselves with basic supplies for several days. The biggest demand will be for water. Even if there is a lot of gas and gold, people will not waste their time on such things. They will be searching for water and food.

Water is an undervalued substance nowadays because we have endless access to it. Astronauts explore other planets on the availability of water because a man cannot live without it.

Everybody will become dried as raisins if we do not drink water every day. Plants die without watering because they are living beings as well as humans.

That is why it is an important skill for every person to install a rainwater collection system near their home.

Maybe you are proud of your ability to set a tent or to knock down a tree, but it is not something that will save your life in an emergency. The water source is the first thing you should find in your survival area.

Big game hunting or cooking as a chief is not enough for successful survival. Food will not save you from thirst. If you have access to the wells – you need to get deep well hand pump kit in case of emergency, keep a few in advance!

Our organism can live without food for three weeks, so the food supply is not a matter of first importance in camping.

Mahatma Gandhi showed that humans could live without food for 21 days, but 3 days without water will destroy your body.

As I have already said, we do not appreciate the water supply because it is everywhere in modern society. You can feel real thirst only if you will be cut off from the cities for a long time.

There is a great citation of Benjamin Franklin about this issue:


The best option for collecting rainwater is to take it from the skies. Have you ever thought about alternative ways to reach the water except for the water supply system?

The danger of limited access to water is that every citizen of the planet will fight even for one drop. There will be wars and violence if the water disappears one day.

This cruelty has already started in some countries, but it can damage developed states as well. One thought about this problem gives you creeps.

So, it is the best moment to start a rainwater collection now because it is an easy and affordable way to survive. Rainwater is fresh and unpolluted — it is your chance to provide your family with a water source.

There are no reasons to avoid this activity as free water can be useful in any emergency. Get started to know how you can collect it today with the help of this article.

Besides, have a read of our extensive survival prepping guide:  learn about the first-class survival gear, most needed survival skills, and virtually all real preppers, true homesteaders, and wise survivalists want to learn about!

Law Regulations of Rainwater Harvesting

Despite all the myths, I declare that it is legal to collect and use rainwater in most states of the US. Some people believe that some states forbid rainwater harvesting, but it is just water from the sky.

You need to search for additional information on this topic in your state because there are some differences in various states’ laws.

I consider that people should have a right to the rainwater collection in our society. However, water sources have become limited nowadays, and the government may change its policies in nearest future. It is inhuman to block access to water, but no one knows what will be stated in people’s rights in 10 years.

Who is the owner of rain? I guess that every person in the world can use it. Even though authorities will impose restrictions on water use, we will need to fight for our rights.

There are still no limitations regarding rainwater harvesting in America. Do not doubt it and collect the rainwater while you can because it is the most valuable supply for our body. Do not forget to check the amendments to local laws connected with this issue.

Variants of Rainwater Collection System

Ancient people learned how to collect and use rainwater earlier than how to start a fire. There are plenty of options for rainwater collection systems, and some of them are more modern and convenient, but others are simple and affordable.

Eastern people created their approach to water collection, Western societies modified them, but there is no the best one. All of them have advantages and disadvantages, so you need to select the one more comfortable for you.

The main algorithm is the same for all approaches:

  1. The size of the area for collection affects the volume of water you can get.
  2. Collected rainwater can be easily transported.
  3. Filtration of the water is made after transportation.

You can create the system by yourself but make sure you include these three steps in its activity.

We will present popular and tested ways of rainwater collection, and you can apply them to your harvesting system.

Now we distinguish two methods of rainwater collection: purchase produced system or build your own own.

Ready-Made Rainwater Harvesting Systems

If you have enough money to buy a new rainwater harvesting system and do not have free time for its construction and installation, this option is suitable for you. Make your decision based on your budget and water needs.

The ready-made rain harvesting system will provide you with high-quality filtration tools and convenient water transportation. It means that you will not have any challenges during the collection — the system will do everything by itself.

Also, it is mostly impossible to make a mistake in the mounting of a factory-made system, but you need to keep its proper work by yourself.

Several brands allow you to purchase a ready rainwater collection system, so you need to select the one you can afford.

Some questions will help you to decide on the best rainwater collection system for you:

  • What is the frequency of rainfall in your area?
  • What will be the purpose of water usage?
  • How much rainwater do you need?
  • What is your budget for the rainwater collection system?
  • How much rainwater do you need to reduce the consumption of tap water?

You can consult with the producers of rainwater collection systems in your country and choose the one that will match your water needs.

Construction of the Rainwater Harvesting System

A prototype of the Rainwater Collection System

As we presented above, your system should correspond to the three characteristics: big surface square, transportation, filtration.

The easiest method to collect water with improvised means is to apply tarpaulin and a bucket. You need to make a funnel with the fabric and put the bucket under it for collected rainwater. It may be the best solution if you live in apartments and do not have access to the roof’s draining water.

As regards the wild environment, you can replace canvas with big leaves. They will accumulate the water in the center, and you will be able to pour it into the container. A rain jacket is another material that you can apply instead of tarpaulin.

You can even use saran wrap to make this. Your creativity and resourcefulness will save you in a survival situation.

The building of Permanent Harvesting System

The roof is the most convenient resource of water near your home. Their structure is made in such a way that water drains into one place along the gutter downspout. Drain from the roof can replace all materials needed for rainwater harvesting.

We described some of the approaches to harvesting rainwater from the roof below.

The Simplest Methods of Rainwater Collection

Rainwater barrel is the only necessary equipment for the collection of rainwater with the help of roof and drains.

Rainwater barrels are available in every hardware store, so you can afford them at every moment.

Remember that you should not use the old and employed barrels for this task. It matters to know the previous content of this container to avoid poisoning with chemicals and other dangerous substances.

Make sure you buy a rainwater barrel with a faucet at the bottom, a cover with the gap for the filtration system on top, and a hole for overflow. These basic features will make it easier to filter and transport rainwater to the bottles and other containers.

Do not forget to buy a garden hose that will allow you to transfer water to any place you need.

Steps to Create Collection System with Rain Barrel

  1. Make sure you know the sizes of your rain barrel. You will need to cut the drain at the appropriate height for your barrel. You want to locate the elbow of the drainpipe above the rain barrel, so make the pipe suitable for the barrel length.
  2. Slice the drainpipe using a handsaw.
  3. Remove the elbow to the place of cut.
  4. Locate the rain barrel under the elbow in such a way that water will fall into the container. Make sure the surface is flat to avoid overflow in the rain barrel.

This method of rainwater collection is called a dry system because waterfalls into a barrel directly from the roof. The algorithm is easy, and even a child can perform it. This approach of collecting rainwater is available for everyone. You have no reason not to use free water from the roof.

It is important to place the rain barrel on the stable ground because the weight of a full 55-gallon rain barrel is more than 500 pounds. The most suitable types of surfaces are gravel, concrete, or pavement.

Do not put the rain barrel on an inclined surface — it can hurt someone after a fall. Also, avoid mud or wet soil for this purpose as the rain barrel can drown in them.

Remember that you need to make the rain barrel empty before winter because water may freeze and break down the rainwater storage tank.

Summing up, rain barrels and drainpipes are all you need for harvesting rainwater. Do not miss your chance to save water for the future.

Construction of High Complex Rainwater Harvesting System

If you want to expand the amount of collected water, you can build more comprehensive systems. There are two variants to do water storage.

1 — Combine Several Rain Barrels

This approach allows you to make gradual investments into the dry system. You can unite 55-gallon rain barrels to distribute the water into a huge water tank. Build a chain from rain barrels and make access of water to them.

Installation of such a structure will not be costly for you as you will be able to add barrels when you will have money for this. It is a winning variant for you.

Watch the video to understand how you need to combine several rain barrels.

Pay attention to the base for such a system. It should be a flat and dry ground to keep your barrels clean and safe and provide stability for the rainwater tank’s bottom.

Build a platform by yourself or purchase it. You can construct it out of wood or cinder blocks.

2 — Huge Storage Tank

Installation of a tank is a way to expand rainwater storage capacity. Make sure you can configure pipes to the rainwater harvesting tank and have enough place suitable for the rainwater tank size.

Some people install used baths or special rainwater collection tanks for this goal. If you want to gather a lot of water into one tank, you can build an additional roofing system for this because the roof area of one house will not collect a big amount of water. The settings for such systems are similar to other ones, but it allows to store water for a long time.

Water Catchment Pillow

A water pillow is an alternative to 13 combined 55-gallon rainwater tanks. However, it requires a special location on your property.

The principle of operation is the same as in other systems. There should be a pipe with water and a filtration system.

Do not neglect the filtration of water. The roof surface can be polluted with droppings of the birds and animals, with dust and other fallouts from factories. That is why water purification is an essential step of every approach to collecting rainwater for consumption or cooking.

Sawyer Purification System

Sawyer mini filter can purify up to 100,000 gallons of rainwater. Its size makes it convenient to use in any survival trip.

You can pack it in your survival bag or install it in your dry system. Sawyer is capable of filtering any wild water from bacteria and pollutions. That is why many experienced survivalists prefer it for camping.

Sawyer Products

It may seem not easy to set the Sawyer mini filter to your permanent collection system, but there is a fast method to manage this task.

You need to add a rubber pipe between the rain barrel and the source of water and put the Sawyer into it. It will become a comprehensive gravity purifier for the better quality of water.

The Sawyer mini filter will save your money and place as it is much more affordable than standard gravity filters.

Watch the video review about the Sawyer Filter.

Upgrade Rainwater Harvesting System with Pump

Add a submersible pump to your system, and you will forget about any issues related to poor water holding.

A pump will solve the problem of pressure that depends on gravity. You will be able to remove the container with water to any place (even to your home) with this pump.

Mosquito Control

Another problem with water storage is that mosquitos tend to live in them. Make sure you install mosquito dunks into your rainwater collection system to avoid their reproduction on your property and the area of your neighbors.

Lack of Rain

Of course, all described systems are perfect when there is regular rainfall in your area. But what can you do if there is no rain in the area close to your home?

The only solution is to find another water source available in your living or camping place.

The first alternative is to dig. However, the success of reaching the water while digging depends on the type of soil and the geographical conditions. If you spend some time digging a deep hole, you will find water almost in every area.

The depth of the needed hole can be different based on the location — there are groundwater level can be low or high.

The second option is to collect morning dew. The volume of water from dew will be much smaller than from the rainfall, but it will be enough for you to survive.

To Sum Up

Think about the future when you decide whether you need to collect rainwater or not.

Water can become the most valuable resource on the planet, and all the economy will be centered around it. It will be the most popular item in the stores in several decades.

There are plenty of reasons to invest in the rainwater collection system nowadays because rainwater can be used for various goals. Make your permanent source of drinking water, and every friend will be jealous of you.

Collected rainwater is your protection and insurance for a secure life. The supply of water is necessary for our health.

You will die without drinking water in three days when the emergency happens. Preparedness for this situation is not effective without the construction of a rainwater collection system.


What states can you legally collect rainwater?

It is a legal procedure in most states of the US nowadays. The only exceptions are Utah and Colorado. You need to check the updates in the laws of your state before you start collecting rainwater. I believe that there is no holder of the rainwater, and everyone can use this source for their survival.

How much does a rainwater collection system cost?

You need to purchase a barrel and pipes for the simplest self-made rainwater harvesting system. It will cost about $150 to buy these products. As regards the factory-made systems, the price for them varies from $1000 to $15000 based on their size and internal tools. Buying a rainwater collection system worth it even for such a high price because it will save more money in the future.

How do you collect and store rainwater?

You can collect rainwater with different equipment. The most convenient way during camping is to gather water using the canvas and a bucket. If you want to set a permanent system near your home, you will need to buy a ready-made one or construct it by yourself. We presented several approaches to building rainwater harvesting systems in this article.

Why is rainwater harvesting important?

Water is a substance that is necessary for the life of every living creature. Even plants cannot survive without moisture. That is why you need constant access to drinking water. The harvesting of rainwater is the most comfortable method to provide you and your family with self-sufficiency from municipal water and reduce your water bill.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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