Average Precipitation Has Been Increasing Across The State
Average annual precipitation has been steadily increasing across the state, from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to the Texas Hill Country. An increase in rainfall can be a temporary blessing for any rancher, but what if you could stretch the blessing to seasons of drought, too? Take advantage of rising precipitation levels by harvesting rainwater!
Why Should I Collect Rainwater?
According to NOAA, most Texas regions have experienced a .50 - 1.0-inch increase in average annual rainfall. Victor Murphy, the climate service program manager for the National Weather Service’s southern regional headquarters in Fort Worth, explains that the “new normal” of Texas weather could create a drought-flood pattern with short periods of heavy rainfall followed by longer periods of extended dryness.
According to KWTX, Central Texas has experienced a 1.71-inch rise in average annual precipitation. That surge, similar to the DFW area, stems from an increase in intensity rather than an increase in frequency when it comes to rainfall. Heavy storms followed by seasons of drought can negatively impact any farm or ranch operation’s land, agriculture, livestock, and home. It’s imperative that landowners learn to maximize their rainwater storage and usage with sustainability in mind.
Not only is rainwater relatively clean and totally free, but it’s also better for most plants and gardens because it’s free of chemicals like chlorine. If you live in a city with water restrictions - as most Texans do - collecting rainwater is a painless way to conserve water on your own terms.
Arid land is more prone to flooding and collecting rainwater before it can cause a washout will reduce stormwater runoff and alleviate drainage problems. Using simple, inexpensive technologies, rainwater can function as an operation’s main source of water or as an emergency reservoir.
The Basics of Recycling Rainwater
Traditionally, rainwater is harvested from a roof using the pre-existing gutter system. The gutters help channel the flow of water into a storage vessel, like a rain barrel or a cistern. Harvesting systems are meant to be flexible and portable to allow for any expansion or relocation.
The size of your storage vessel depends largely on how you wish to use your rainwater - the most common intentions are irrigation, non-potable use, or potable use. The following formula can help you determine how much rainfall you can collect based on average precipitation in your area:
- 1″ of rain x 1 sq. ft. = 0.623 gallons
Essentially, one inch of precipitation over 1,000 square feet will yield 623 gallons of rainwater.
How Can I Collect and Store Rainwater?
Rain barrels are the most common storage method and can be easily implemented at any residence. Barrels are readily available at most home improvement stores or can be repurposed from other sources, and just need to be installed at a gutter downspout. This method collects the least amount of water but is the lowest-maintenance option.
A dry system adds another step to the rain barrel method by combining the barrel with a collection pipe that empties the rainwater directly into a larger tank. In this system, the barrel’s storage capacity is temporary and meant to funnel water into a long-term repository. This allows for a larger stockpile of water without sacrificing simplicity.
A wet system requires the greatest investment but delivers the most payoff in terms of availability and security. In this method, you install your collection pipes underground to connect multiple downspouts from different gutters into one cohesive system. As the rainwater fills the underground piping, it will spill into a larger tank. This method enables you to collect rainwater from the largest possible surface area, in a tank that doesn’t have to be right next to your house. However, this system requires underground piping and a water-tight pipe system.
Whether you choose to use rainfall to water your garden, livestock, or home, harvesting rainwater is an environmentally and fiscally responsible way to increase your operation’s water supply. Find more tips and tricks to improve your home, land, and ranch here.