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A Guide To Rainwater Harvesting

Interest in rainwater harvesting systems has skyrocketed over the past decade. While collecting rainwater has been used heavily in commercial and agricultural production, a new interest has formed around harvesting water for personal and residential use. This guide will discuss rainwater harvesting and its application in all parts of life so you can learn how to capture rainwater effectively.

What Is Rainwater Harvesting?

This is the first question most people have whenever the topic of installing a rainwater collection system comes up. Put simply, rainwater harvesting is the process by which you collect rainwater before it falls on the ground, store it, and use it for future use. A water catchment system can be installed above or below ground, depending on what makes sense for your needs. After collecting and storing the water, it can then be redistributed at a later date for any number of uses.

Aside from minimal setup and installation costs, rainwater collection systems are low-maintenance and affordable solutions for personal, commercial, industrial and agricultural water supplies. Most states provide tax incentives and encourage individuals in both rural and urban areas to begin their own eco-friendly water harvesting projects to reduce burdens on city services and increase sustainability.

How Do You Set Up A Rainwater Harvesting System?

There are four main components of a water catchment system:

  • Collection
  • Pre-Filtration
  • Storage
  • Secondary Filtration (AKA Post-Tank Filtration)

Utilizing all four of these steps properly can give you a fresh supply of water to use for any occasion.

The first thing during setup is to define your catchment area. This is the area where rain harvesting begins. Most water harvesting systems start on the roof of a building. The catchment is the area where rainwater touches before being directed through channels and downspouts into your pre-filter where it will be then placed in storage for future use. The size of your water catchment system will define how much rainwater you are able to collect, giving you the information you need regarding storage tank capacity. Utilizing a roof's built-in gutters and downspouts can make it easy for you to channel water into your pre-filter and then into your water storage tank for later use.

When you are ready to access your stored water, it will be pumped through a secondary filtration system to remove any unwanted impurities before being directed to your end use. Your water pump defines the maximum flow rate and pressure, so it is important to know the required flow rate and pressure your end use requires. Maximum flow rate depends on the application of your water catchment system.

Who Uses A Rainwater Collection System?

The uses of rainwater harvesting have been manifold for centuries. Prior to the industrial revolution, and even today in underdeveloped countries, harvesting rainwater is one of the most effective ways to provide a readily available supply of water to a home, business or community.


Farms collect rainwater for non-potable reasons, such as irrigation and cleaning equipment. They may also use rain harvesting to feed animals and water crops during dry seasons or in processing before products are sent for distribution.


From watermills to modern manufacturing, applications of rainwater harvesting in commercial sectors have grown and expanded over the past two centuries. Some of the many commercial reasons to collect rainwater include water for cooling towers, toilets, irrigation systems, fire suppression efforts, fleet sanitation applications, laundries and manufacturing processes. Many factories and large production facilities can save tens of thousands of dollars on water costs each year by reducing their reliance on city utilities. Additionally, many states now mandate water conservation practices that necessitate the development of rainwater harvesting systems.


As people become more conscious of climate change and their own impact on the environment, there has been a steady trend in the increase of rainwater harvesting systems used in residential applications. Along with the tiny house movement, a desire for more eco-friendly and sustainable living continues to be a growing trend among homeowners. Residences can use water catchment systems and rainwater purifiers to provide potable water for cooking, bathing and consumption or non-potable uses such as irrigation, vehicle washing, or laundry use.

Find Rainwater Management Solutions For You

We have a number of parts and accessories for your rainwater harvesting application. RMS has developed a proprietary system for easy installation of your own residential rainwater collection system and offers solutions for commercial and agricultural requirements. Shop all of our available products or contact us to start living a more sustainable life.

Shop RMS Harvesting Accessories