How to Counter World Water Scarcity by Using Your Gutters Wisely

January 18th, 2016, 6pm

It’s a well know fact that 79% of Earth’s surface is water. What people don’t know is that only 1% of all water is drinkable. The remaining 99% is either salt water or frozen, which means that we cannot use it to sustain life.

Now even the United Nations has recognized water scarcity as a viable threat to human existence and is starting to take measures. But the problem is only going to get worse, especially in some parts of the globe, such as Africa and Australia.

Australian population is projected to double to 46 million over the next 60 years. This essentially means that we, Australians, have to be extra thrifty and start contributing to the water-saving effort ourselves.

Solving The Crisis Through Using Your Cleaned Gutters

What do gutters have to do with saving water? The idea is quite simple really: connect your downpipes to a rain barrel and collect rainwater. Basically, a rain barrel acts as a storage facility for rainwater, which you could later use for irrigation, washing your windows or your car, and many other things.

But before I go on to explain how to build the rain barrel, you have to make sure that your gutters are cleaned. Otherwise the cumulated debris will become the perfect breading ground for various bacteria and pathogens, which are a real health risk, especially in hot and humid places, like my native Melbourne. You can either clean the gutters by yourself, or call the gutter cleaning professionals.

The 4 Easy Steps to Make a Rain Barrel

First of, the most important element you have to procure is the barrel. You could buy one from your local hardware store, or find a discarded barrel from a restaurant for example. You’ll also need a tube of watertight sealant, two rubber and two metal washers, a hose clamp, a spigot, a drill, and some landscaping fabric.

Step one: Cut a hole, but not too large, on the top of the barrel. This hole will connect your gutter and downpipe to the barrel. Cut another hole on the side, near the top of the barrel. It will allow water to overflow. If you want, you can use a short hose to connect the overflow hole to another rain barrel. Seal the top hole with the landscaping fabric, so mosquitoes and other insects don’t lay eggs inside.

Step two: Use the drill to make a hole on the side, somewhere near the bottom of the barrel. You’ll be inserting the spigot in that hole, so to be certain that everything fits tightly, use a size smaller than the spigot drill bit.

Step three: Next, take the spigot and place one metal and one rubber washer onto the threaded end. Then apply some water sealant over the rubber washer and insert the spigot into the hole. Wait for a few minutes for the sealant to dry up a bit and place the other rubber and metal washers (in that order) onto the threaded end of the spigot inside the barrel. Lastly, secure the spigot inside the container with the hose clamp.

Step four: Place the rain barrel right under the downpipe and start collecting rain water.

Good luck!

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Nathan Hutt

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