Sharla Shaffer

For you city and town dwellers who dread receiving your water bill during the summer months, now is the time to start planning ways to reduce your water bill while having free - yes, free - water on hand for outdoor use. That’s good news for those of you in this North Texas area who repeatedly have $250 monthly water bills.

Since Texas has experienced an unusually high amount of rainfall lately, why not capture this water and use it for your outdoor landscapes during our droughts? It’s called rainwater harvesting.

According to, a home with a 1,000 square foot roof will catch 623 gallons of water for one inch of rainfall. Texas’ average annual rainfall, according to, is 29.7 inches, so if you have a 1,000 square foot roof, over 6,000 gallons of water roll off your roof in an average year!

Realistically you would not be able to harvest and store all 6,000 gallons unless you live in the country and install a large rainwater harvesting system, but you residential dwellers can store at least some of that water for summer use! Here’s how.

Buy Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are usually large, heavy duty barrel-like containers that have a faucet at the bottom and a screened top to prevent mosquitos and other insects from laying eggs in the water. They catch and hold rainwater. Garden hoses can be screwed onto the faucet to water your landscape, and the barrels could be ‘tied’ together to form a larger water harvesting system. Purchase pre-made rain barrels and place them under downspouts if your home has gutters, or if your home doesn’t have gutters and downspouts, watch during the next rainfall and determine where water pours off your roof. Place the rain barrel there. For more information type in ‘rain barrel’ in your favorite web browser and you will have a myriad of stores from which to purchase.

Make Your Own Rainwater Harvester

Rain harvesting systems are pretty simple to make, even for a hardware dunce like myself. The best article I’ve seen on making your own simple rainwater harvesting system is found at Mother Earth News. You can link to it by going to , and clicking on the ‘All The Rest…’ tab.

Purchase Water Storage Tanks

If you are serious about storing water and want a large, heavy duty storage system, go to your local farm supply store and ask for water storage tanks. One local supply store stocks a water storage tank that holds 3,000 gallons.

Reduce your outrageous summer water bill and go catch that rain!

If you have a story you would like to share concerning environmental stewardship, e-mail me at