Rainwater Harvesting in California
by RainSaucers Inc. on December 17th, 2013
Does rainwater harvesting make sense in California? It rains mostly in the Winter and early Spring here and not at all during the Summer when most gardening activity is at a peak. Furthermore, it doesn’t rain all that much to begin with: San Francisco gets just 22 inches while LA only gets 15. Plus water is cheap thanks to the runoff from Mount Shasta and the Great California Aqueduct. So why bother? Because rainwater harvesting makes sense anywhere, but especially in places where it is dry. As we’ve posted about before, rainwater has benefits that go well beyond Return on Investment. These include increased Water Security, improved Water Quality, Drought Preparedness , and Stormwater Reduction. But there are some other reasons specific to California:
- Earthquake Preparedness. Who wants to be without water when the next big Earthquake hits? Eight of the Ten biggest recorded quakes in California occurred in during the rainy season. And ALL of the ones that killed more than 50 people were in the rainy season (San Francisco was in April of 1906, Northridge was in January of 1994, Loma Prieta was in October of 1989, San Fernando was in February of 1971). So collecting rainwater makes sense in case an Earthquake shuts down water lines.
- California has the negative of potential Earthquakes but it also has the positive of a moderate climate. It rarely freezes here, meaning there are a wide range of plants that can be started during Winter. Examples include your heartier varieties of peas, spinach, cauliflower, and cabbage, as well as lettuce and other salad greens. So a gardener with ambition can easily start their plants in Late Fall irrigated with nothing but natural rain. Then with the support of collected rainwater, they can grow and harvest their vegetables even after the rain has stopped.
- Finally it goes without saying, but every drop really does count. Even a small rainwater harvesting system has the potential to support some vegetables from planting to harvest. Please read our post which shows our own experiment in this area.
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