SHARE
house illustration
Right as rain. Lucy Engelman

Whoever said money doesn’t fall from the sky hadn’t mastered the art of harvesting precipitation. A carefully ­coordinated system can render drizzles and downpours safe to use in all your indoor-plumbing fixtures and water-hogging appliances—and ­augment your home’s reliance on the utility company too.

"Leaf

SIFT

Meet the Leaf Eater Advanced.

Rain has a pesky habit of knocking loose all kinds of crud you don’t want flowing into your home. As a first line of defense, the Leaf Eater Advanced pre-filter attaches to your gutter’s downspout to keep large debris out of the water supply. Its 0.955 mm screen is fine enough to sift out everything from mosquitoes to leaves. $33.

From the downspout, runoff enters the 200-gallon Poly-Mart Rainwater Harvesting Tank, where a filter basket catches any left-behind floaters. If enough drops fall to fill the drum, a pipe up top sends overflow into your regular storm drains. At capacity, the barrel weighs more than a ton, so it needs to sit on concrete or another solid surface. $326.

Nestled inside the tank, the ­Grundfos SBA-3-45-AW Automatic Pump includes a floating extractor buoy that pushes cleaner, more-oxygenated surface water into the home first. An integrated controller unit automatically stops the pump when the tank is empty, switching your water supply back to the regular, public works. $660.

Before it flows to fixtures, enough H2O passes through the Viqua 12GPM Integrated Rainwater Purification System to feed about five simultaneous showers. A carbon filter removes some odors and flavors, while a UV disinfector stops disease-causing organisms from reproducing. The resulting liquid meets most indoor water-quality codes. $1,040.

Drain lines from showers, sinks, and washing machines (no toilets!) flow into the Aqua2Use GWDD Greywater Recycling System. A series of increasingly fine membrane filters cleanse water of soap, some oils, dead skin, and hair, readying it to run through your lawn- or garden-irrigation setup. Warning: It’s safe for plants to drink, but not you. $622.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2017 issue of Popular Science, under the title “Rain, Rain, Stow Away.”

MORE TO READ