This is that curious and exhausting stage of our lives during which Amanda and I effectively live in two worlds. Most of the week we work at our desk jobs, she teaching students at Samford University and I helping people survive divorce. Most Friday and Saturdays, though, we work at Longleaf Breeze. This weekend we will be visiting our brand new grandson in California, so we’re sneaking down for a one-day trip to work on our rainwater harvesting system.
Our friend Dave Berry and his partner Sean will be working there today, finishing laying the PVC pipe that runs underground from the gutters and runs down the hill, eventually to a storage tank. I say “eventually” because the collapse in the investment market has clipped our financial wings and forced us to put off the purchase of the tank. Right now all we can afford to do is to concentrate the water in the pipe so it doesn’t cause an erosion problem at the barn. This photo is looking along the southern edge of the barn at the long run of 6″ PVC pipe buried there. My main task for the day will be to use Tractor to fill in the ditches around the PVC. We will stop at 6-12 inches below the surface so Amanda can lay out a strip of “Caution” tape (Dave’s idea, and a good one). The idea of the caution tape is that we know we will eventually forget where we have buried the PVC. So years later if we’re digging and we hit the caution tape, maybe we’ll slow down to see what it is that may be buried there before we plunge on ahead. The barn has 5,000 glorious square feet of galvalume metal roofing, so a 1/2 inch rain is 1,500 gallons of water. We won’t save all of it, but we’ll save what we need and then pump it back up the hill to the barn and eventually to the house. Yes, that will mean we are dependent on electrical service for pumping the water, but that’s where we are anyway with the well, so there’s not much we can do about that, other than to make sure we keep the standby generator working smoothly. The question of how to filter the water has Dave and me scratching our heads. We know we will strain the water before it goes down the hill to keep out most of the trash and leaf litter. Dave designed the strainer and I’m cutting and bending six of them, one for each downspout. Once the water gets down to ground level, Dave and Sean have installed PVC piping to carry it away. The piping concentrates all the water in a 6-inch PVC pipe that “daylights” just down the hill and to the west of the barn. We also know we will filter it in some way down the hill, probably after the daylight point and before it goes into the tank. We know we will add one or more filters of the water from the tank before we consume it in the barn and the house. The question is whether we also want to add a first flush diverter. The gurus say that a first flush ought to divert the first 1/10 inch of the rain, so that means the first 300 gallons. All the first flush diverter mechanisms we know of are smaller than that, so we’re still looking around. If you know of a solution, please let us know.