Another consumer home friendly way to save rainwater is the installation of onsite French drains. These are used to capture and settle rainwater into the surrounding ground from gutter drains through percolation, ending in aquifers or possibly feeding nearby creeks and other natural bodies of water.
These are simple to install, requiring digging trenches of appropriate size and length out from the gutters, leading to a larger collection ‘pond’ of greater depth. The trenches have two sided drainpipes connected to the gutters and, when under-filled and backfilled with medium sized drain rock, will carry the gutter based rainwater to a slow percolation into the surrounding soil base. Of course, they do require a permeable or semi permeable soil to accomplish the settling into the ground for the underground movement to be successful. Some Santa Cruz clays or near surface rock would either require more work or be nonviable.
The drain rock can be covered to hide it with a variety of means, I like one that adds a top layer of granite screenings, maybe becoming a landscaped pathway and as adding to the capacity of the system to absorb close by rain top surface water. Covered with various semi permeable materials allows for plantings over the French drain as long as soil isn’t allowed to infiltrate the system.
The installation of this simple system is not beyond the skills for a DYI or a local professional.
The reuse of the flushed millions of gallons of secondarily treated sewage water is still the major crux in a water saver scheme, but multitudes of this simple method over thousands, or more, of homes is both a successful addition as well as a way to be personally better connected to a solution.
John Balawejder, Santa Cruz
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