Rainwater harvesting is the practice of collecting rainwater from rooftops and storing it for later use. Systems can range from a simple rain barrel installed at a downspout, to an elaborate system with water disinfection, filters and pumps to provide either potable or non-potable water inside buildings. Some systems harvest rainwater to supply rain gardens.
Rain Gardens Technical Guide is a publication by the Virginia Department of Forestry which goes step-by-step through how to create your own rain garden.
Piedmont Native Plant Database has a great selection of plants in a searchable databse. Just tick the boxes the describe your site conditions and search to generate a list of suitable native plants.
After years of promoting and providing assistance for the installation of rainwater harvesting systems, the TJSWCD has been pleased to see a surge in interest in this practice on the state and local levels and from private citizens. The TJSWCD (in partnership with the Rivanna River Basin Commission) has been working with state representatives to encourage the development of consistent statewide guidelines for the installation of rainwater harvesting systems on public and private buildings. Without such guidelines, Health Department and building code officials are often hesitant to approve the installation of rainwater harvesting systems on the local level. The District currently has funding for 250 gallon or more cisterns. Please go to our Conservation Assistance Program for details.
How much water can be collected?
If Monticello High School could harvest all of the water that falls on its roof, it would catch twice as much water annually than it uses!
Why Collect Rainwater?
Harvesting rainwater accomplishes two goals at once:
(1) conserves groundwater and surface water supplies
(2) helps protect against damage and pollution to waterways by reducing stormwater runoff.
- water gardens and indoor plants
- wash the dog, car, & muddy feet
- fill birdbaths and goldfish Ponds
- flush toilet tanks
- ...and whatever else you may need for nonpotable water for!
Above: A large rainwater harvesting cistern in Fluvanna County.