April 29, 2016

Cisterns and Water Barrels: Water Capture Systems

I just told Husband that I wanted to take a road trip to the Hill Country outside of Austin, TX.  Years ago we took this same road trip and visited the incredible Lady Bird Johnson WILDFLOWER RESEARCH CENTER. I want to revisit this incredible resource of information on conservation, pollinators, native plants, and especially, for my interests, (as Husband and I plan our small Salida, CO cabin) the incredible indigenous style and architecture of the place.

The Wildflower Center�s striking architecture is constructed to conserve resources. A central irrigation system collects rainwater from 17,000 square feet of roof, or about 10,200 gallons per inch of rain. The separate entry cistern is fed by 1,167 square feet of roof, collecting 700 gallons per inch of rain. Another cistern and ponds collect water for re-circulation. (via WRC site)

On my first visit I was fascinated by so many things...among them their rain water capture system...and how I might, on a modest scale, introduce a water capture system of my own.

So I have finally started the hunt for an option for my garden here in OKC, and am looking at well-reviewed, easy to install, small-enough-to-fit my space, options. Some of them:

this 50 Gallon Pop Up WATER BARREL from HOME DECORATOR'S COLLECTION looks light, portable, easy to install....but I wonder about its durability. Find it for $129.00 here.

Fiskars Tuscany 57 Gal. Rainwater Harvesting System

Or the $149 Fiskar's Tuscany 57 Gallon Water barrel from HOME DEPOT here. More to my aesthetic (even if it will be hidden away...)

is this WILLOW RAIN BARREL RAIN SAVER I saw at Sam's. The brass fittings look durable and are attractive; the willow texture on the facade is the color of the trim of my house and looks 'basket-y', and at around $90 and with a 65 gallon capacity is probably my selection.

On a local and CHEH Neighborhood note, I just saw this in our newsletter:

Water Conservation Tips Rain Barrel Program
by Barbie Smalley

The City of Oklahoma City and the Central OK Storm Water Alliance (COSWA) are partnering to encourage residents to conserve water and reduce pollution through the use of rain barrels.

The organizations are offering a discounted rain barrels online at www.upcycle-products.com starting at $63.50 each.

The deadline to order is June 12. Rain barrels ordered online can be picked up between 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 17 or between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. on June 18 from the City's Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 1621 S. Portland.

For more information, contact Andrea Shelton, 297-1797 or andrea.shelton@okc.gov.

I am wondering......is this something you are considering, or do you already have one?  Please let me know!


  1. I got one of those from the OKC program last year, along with the re-purposed wood stand for it to sit on, making it easier to fill my watering can. I love it! It's not beautiful but it's in my backyard so I don't mind. I feel even better about it because it's recycled from a food storage import container so it's already had another life. I drained it and disconnected the downspout during the winter so there could be no chance of water collecting and freezing, potentially cracking it. Lesson learned: when empty, they are very light and our crazy winds knocked it over and broke the faucet, but the company that made it sells replacement parts so that solved the problem. Since then I have attached it by bungee cord to a solid object, my potting bench, so don't worry about it now. It's full of rainwater, at least for now! i highly recommend this program.

    1. What great information, Brenda! Thank you so much for sharing....I will heed all of your advice!

  2. Hi, I purchased one of those rain barrels from the OKC program last year. I felt good about it because it is actually a re-purposed food import container. It's not beautiful, but it doesn't matter because it's in my backyard. It fit easily into the backseat of my 4-door sedan for the ride home when I picked it up. I drained and disconnected it from the downspout to prevent freezing and cracking. The rainbarrel is very lightweight and easy to move when empty, but with our Oklahoma winds, it blew over and the spigot broke this winter. Fortunately, the company that sells them through the OKC program, Upcycle Products, sells replacement parts so it was easy to fix. I now have it tethered via a large bungee cord to a heavy object, my potting bench. At this time, it's full of rainwater but will probably empty quickly once hot weather gets here. I highly recommend it! Purchase the re-purposed wood stand that is also sold so you can easily access the spigot with your watering can. Hope that helps! Brenda Johnston, OKC

  3. I just saw one in my neighbor's garden. Looks similar to the Home depot one you show. We get so little rain here, Southern California, I have to look into it. Keep us posted on your findings. Enjoy your beautiful photos of your front garden.

    1. Yes, Southern California and Oklahoma definitely have arid gardens in common. I will keep you posted....thinking about asking for one for Mother's Day. (Who needs diamonds?) If you enjoy images of my garden, Judith, please be on the lookout for the June issue of SOUTHERN LIVING (hopefully you can get it there...). There is going to be a large spread on my back gardens, and I wrote the article...a labor of love. Thanks for being a reader of p o t a g e r!

    2. I'll look for the magazine, I've seen it at the airport, but don't know if I can find it here. Sounds exciting.

  4. I have 4 rain barrels connected to my downspouts and I am thrilled with them

  5. I am so jealous! Did you install them yourself?


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