Tuesday, 27 March, 2001

Get Out the Ark!

Q:  What do Austinites call the day after two days of rain.
A:  Monday.

We're swimming here.  March average rainfall in Austin is 1.69 inches.  We've had 5.29 inches of rain this month, and three more days of thunderstorms to go.  The back yard is a swamp.  Area lakes are now slightly above "full" level.  No major floods yet, although there is a flash flood watch in effect tonight.  Surprisingly enough, the ground seems still to be soaking it up.  Our back yard is a low spot, and standing water rarely lasts longer than a day, even after all this rain we've had lately.  And it's great for the grass (which I can't mow because the tractor sinks) and the rest of the plants.

It's too bad I haven't installed the rainwater collection system yet (maybe next year), because I'm sure I'll be needing water for our vegetable garden come July and August.  It's surprising how much water you can collect from the roof of your house.  In a 1" rain, the roof of a 2,500 square foot house will shed about 1,400 gallons of water.  I could easily collect over 10,000 gallons of water in the spring for use in the dry hot summer months.  All it takes is a simple system of pipes to carry water from the rain gutters on the house to a cachement system (typically one or more tanks in the 3,000 to 7,000 gallon size).  Harvesting rainwater for household needs isn't practical if you have other options, but it's perfect for watering plants.  It also gets the water away from the foundation, which would alleviate some of the shifting that causes cracks in our walls.

Rainwater collection systems for garden use are fairly inexpensive.  If you're interested, here's a good place to start.  http://www.greenbuilder.com/sourcebook/Rainwater.html