Finishing the Install of a Rain Water Collection System for Drip Irrigation System

I’ve finished installing my rain water collection system that I will use to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden.  We actually accomplished all of the work in about a half a day and it was fairly easy.  We levelled the tank, finished installing the collection and filter pipes and then installed the filter pipe drain and overflow piping.  I’m not ure of the roof surface area that this collector drains but will measure and report back next month.  All in all, installing a rain water collection system to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden was relatively easy and inexpensive.

Leveling the Rain Water Collection Tank

Red Levelling the Green Rain Water Collection Tank
Leveling the Rain Water Collection Tank

This rain water collection tank holds 1,000 gallons and that should be plenty to supply several months of water for my drip irrigation system.  It is approximately 9 feet tall by 5 feet wide.  I think it’s important that it is level because water weighs a little over 8 pounds/gallon and 1,000 gallons means the tank weighs approximately 4 tons when full.  That’s more than a large vehicle and it is definitely more top heavy than a large vehicle.  I doubt it will be subjected to the side to side movement that a vehicle is but I still think leveling the tank is important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain Water Collection Tank Pad Adjustments

Green Rain Water Collection Tank with Red Crushed Granite Pad
Rain Water Collection Tank Crushed Granite Pad

I save some of the crushed granite from when I originally built the pads for the rain water collection tanks and used some of that saved excess to push under the tank to level it.  The location of my tank, under my deck, is on the side of a hill and leveling this tank, as well as the drip irrigation system and deck container garden will be a challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain Water Collection Pipes

White Rain Water Collection Pipes Under Brown Decking for Drip Irrigation System
Rain Water Collection Pipes for Drip Irrigation System

The rain water collection piping system consists of collection pipes and a filter pipe.  The primary collection pipes are connected directly to the rain gutter down spouts running from the roof of my house.  In this case, we’re collecting from 2 downspouts and running both of them into a single tank.  I do have the ability to add additional downspouts collections in the future as well as adding additional tanks in the event that I want to expand my drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining Rain Water Collection Pipes

Purple Gluing White Rain Water Collection Pipes for Container Vegetable Gardening
Gluing Rain Water Collection Pipes for Container Vegetable Gardening

In some cases I have cemented the pipe joints together.  I’ve done this where I know there will be water weight stress or that the rain water collection system design is close enough to final to be permanent.  In other cases, I’ve simply hand fitted the pipe joints together to allow for ease of movement if I find out that my system design has a flaw or I have a bad location for my drip irrigation system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe

Assembled Drip Irrigation Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe
Assembled Drip Irrigation Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe

Most commercial and personal water rain water collection systems have a complex filter system to make the water potable.  In my case, the water is not intended to be potable, only to run my drip irrigation system.  Thus, I only really need a filter system to remove debris.  This filter system is the simplest but least efficient.  The design is intended for the first rain wash to fill the vertical pipe.  The first rain wash will contain the majority of the debris.  Once the vertical pipe is filled, the remaining collected rainwater fill flow into the tank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe Drain

Outflow from Rain Water Collection for Container Vegetable Gardening
Outflow from Rain Water Collection for Container Vegetable Gardening

The vertical filter pipe in my rain water collection system needs some method of draining.  I am not reliable to remember to manually drain the filter pipe after each rain.  So, I’ve installed a faucet at the bottom of the pipe and opened it slightly to allow the filter pipe to drain slowly over time.  Although I can’t use this drainage water to directly supply my drip irrigation system, I will use it to supply my rained bed garden and another drip irrigation system I’m planning to try down there.  This design fails in two ways that are somewhat acceptable to me.  The first failure point is that it does not account for drainage of the debris.  The debris will still have to be manually cleaned by removing the entire end plug from the filter pipe.  The second failure is that this system will fail to collect rain water when the run off collected is less than the outflow from the faucet.  That means that a very slow drizzle or light rainfall may fail to collect in the tank.  I’ll have to use trial and error to determine rainfall amounts and collections versus the faucet settings for drainage so that I collect as much rainwater as possible without collecting too much debris.

 

 

Summary of Rain Water Collection System for Drip Irrigation Installation

I leveled my rain water collection tank, which is top heavy, to prevent any future problems.  I cemented some of the rain water collection pipes but only hand fitted others, depending on the water weight stresses and expectation of potential design changes.  I’ve installed the vertical filter pipe, faucet and drain hose and will begin recording rainfall and drainage amounts to optimize the outflow faucet settings and collect as much rain water as possible for my rain water collection system to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden.

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Initial Installation for Harvesting Rainwater

I’ve tried for 2 years to be successful with a deck garden and it’s just too hot on my deck so I’m moving my focus to harvesting rainwater for drip irrigation on my deck garden.  I’m going to move my deck contatiner garden off of my deck where the Summer temperaturs remain in the 90’s and move it down to ground level.  I’m going to prototype a system for harvesting rainwater and then using that rainwater coleection system to feed my drip irrigation system.  It has been several years of very dry weather in Texas and I’m following the lead of a lot of people I know who are harvesting rainwater for their personal comsumption.  I’m not ready to go that far yet, but I expect to learn a lot about harvesting rainwater through this season.

Rainwater Harvesting Parts & Pieces

Materials if White PVC Pipe and Green Water Storage Tank for Harvesting Rainwater
Materials for Rainwater Harvesting

Harvesting rainwater is pretty simple.  You need a roof to collect it from, some pipes to control the flow of the rainwater and a container to collect and store the rainwater.  Most commercial systems are 10,000 gallons or more and since I’m prototyping, I’m using a smaller 1,000 gallon container and a small portion of my roof for harvesting rainwater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location of Tank for Harvesting Rainwater

Site Location Under Deck on Gravel Pad for Rainwater Harvesting
Site Location for Rainwater Harvesting

It is important that the rainwater collection containers be on level ground that is stable.  I’ve created small pads using crushed granite that I purchased from a nearby soils dealer.  I’ve seen other systems for harvesting rainwater that used pea gravel for the based pad of the rainwater collection tank.  I’ve also located my rainwater collection underneath my deck so that it is not easily visible beyond the boundaries of my property and so that the water stays as cool as possible.  My deck has the capacity to hide as many as 5 of these 1,000 gallon rainwater collection tanks in my overall system for harvesting rainwater.

 

 

 

 

Rainwater Collection Schematic

Parts Layout if White PVC Pipe Fittings for Rainwater Harvesting
Parts Layout for Rainwater Harvesting

I’m using a simple system of 4″ PVC pipe to channel the rainwater from the gutter downspouts to the rainwater collection tank.  Since this is my first attempt at harvesting rainwater, I’ve taken the extra step of laying out the parts and pieces on the ground in the shape that I want to install them for my rainwater harvesting system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installation of Rainwater Collection Pipes

Top Collectors Mounted Under Deck with Orange Ladder for Rainwater Harvesting
Top Collectors for Rainwater Harvesting

I’ve connected my 2 gutter downspouts to the 4″ PVC rainwater collectors and joined them together to create a single inflow to my rainwater harvesting system.  The 4″ PVC fit my gutter downspouts perfectly and a street T allowed me to easily join the two inflows into one.  The next step in harvesting rainwater is a wash system that will prevent leaves and dirt from the roof and gutter from flowing into the rainwater collection tank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supervision Needed for Harvesting Rainwater

Supervision by Older Man in Blue Coveralls of Rainwater Harvesting
Supervision of Rainwater Harvesting

My rainwater harvesting system project was bigger than a one-man-job so I asked my Dad to help me and supervise.  He has already installed a 10,000 gallon system for harvesting rainwater for his personal use at his home.  Like all good supervisors, he combines verbal commands and pointing very very well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Initial Installation for Harvesting Rainwater

I have two years of experience trying to grow a container garden on my deck so I’m moving on the prototype a system for harvesting rainwater.  The temperatures during the Summer are just too hat.  So, I’m going to move my container garden to ground level and implement a system for harvesting rainwater to feed my drip irrigation system.  I’ve installed the rainwater collection tank by building a level pad and then installed 4″ PVC to begin the rainwater collection process from my gutter downspouts.  Next, I’ll implement the “washing” system and connect the rainwater harvesting pipes to the rainwater collection tank and that will complete my system for harvesting rainwater.

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Water and Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Water is important when you are raising Texas quail for hunting.  Quail use three types of water – ground water, dew and metabolic water.  Of the three, ground water is both the least and most important type of water.  In Texas, we’ve experienced one of history’s worst recorded droughts during 2010 and 2011.  In the Fall of 2011, it seems to be breaking a little with some slow soaking rains every week or so.  With the huge importance of water and the need to actively manage habitat to sustain and grow wild quail populations, we’ve done quite a bit of work to find and retain what little water we’ve had.  This has put extraordinary pressure on our efforts in raising Texas quail for hunting.

Large Water Ponds

Standing Water Tank in White Texas Clay for Texas Quail
Water Tank for Texas Quail

It is possible in the Texas Hill Country to find soil locations that hold runoff water in the form of tanks or ponds.  These locations require significant amounts of clay soil and the potential evaporation is great.  Stored water in a pond provides moist areas where bugs can breed and become food for baby wild bobwhite quail.  Careful brood management is very important for raising Texas quail for hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainwater Runoff Collection and Retention

Standing Water in Grey Clay Puddle for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Standing Water for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Identification of and harnessing low lying areas with runoff can also be very worthwhile in improving your raising Texas quail for hunting.  Low lying areas that retain water can either be exploited by additional excavation or simply managed with additional water retention methods such as rock dams.  Additionally, these types of water retention areas are more favorable and available to wild bobwhite quail as well as being tremendous feeds to store underground water in local aquifers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identification of Wet Spots

Green Sedges Above White Limestone Clay for Water Seepage Location for Texas Quail
Water Seepage Location for Texas Quail

Locating soil strata for run off and collection only requires some simple observation.  In this area, the presence of muhlie grasses and clay soil are very good indicators of both water holding capabilities as well as potential water run off and collection opportunities.  It is these areas that also provide runoff collection opportunities and they are frequently found near the wild quail brooding areas.  Identification of these areas also provides great opportunities for game cameras so that you can conduct a census while raising Texas quail for hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determining the Viability of Clay Soils

Good Red Clay Soil for Holding Water for Texas Quail
Good Clay Soil for Holding Water for Texas Quail

Testing the water holding capacity of clay soils can be very simple.  Take the soil in your hand, add a very small amount of water and then start kneading and pinching it to see how long you can make it.  Approximately 3 inches or more is needed for any long term water holding capability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing Water Holding Capacity

Hole Dug in Ground with White Clay Soil for Experimenting with Water Holding Location for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Experimenting with Water Holding Location for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Seep Muhlie plants and a clay soil are good indicators or water holding capacity or underground water.  A small excavator or front end loader can be used to scrape test sites to determine the depth and thickness of any clay soil strata as well as the potential for underground water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harnessing Natural Springs

Beautiful Texas Water Spring with Green Grass and White Limestone Rocks
Beautiful Texas Spring

Naturally flowing springs are becoming rare in Texas due to declining rainfall and the huge demand that growing population centers are putting on the aquifers.  This is an example of a natural flowing spring that has been harnessed and directed into a small pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhancing Water Runoff Retention

Water Retention with Rows of White Limestone Rocks on a Green Texas Hill for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Water Retention for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

One water retention device that has been in use for thousands of years are rock or dirt berms.  The purpose of the berms is simply to slow the water as it runs downhill and provide it with the opportunity to sink into the ground rather than runoff into streams and rivers.  This also serves to recharge the local aquifers and regenerate any natural springs that exist in the nearby area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dowsing

Man in Blue Shirt and Green Hat Water Witching with White Clothes Hanger Wires to Support Raising Texas Quail for Hunting
Water Witching to Support Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Dowsing is an ancient art that can be done by almost anyone.  In this example, my Dad is using 2 bent clothes hangers to locate water and/or moisture underground.  If you don’t believe it, give it a try by searching for the water pipes in your yard – I promise you’ll be surprised!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harvesting Rainwater for Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Silver and Green Rainwater Collector with Blue Barrels for Raising Quail
Rainwater Collector for Raising Quail

Rainwater collectors are incredibly handy devices when there is rain.  They are inexpensive, easy to build/assemble and provide an ideal opportunity to take a regular census of the wildlife in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dew Collectors

Small Beads of Morning Dew on the Silver Roof of a Rainwater Collector
Morning Dew on the Rainwater Collector

Another potential modification to a rain water collector is a dew collector.  These are typically used in much more arid regions and have to be quite large to produce any usable water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Water and Raising Texas Quail for Hunting

Water collection and management is critical for raising Texas quail for hunting.  Large water storage tanks and ponds are good but are susceptible to evaporation.  Identification and exploitation of natural water holding and retention areas provides a much better opportunity to hold water and recharge local aquifers.  Rainwater collectors are also very good and are inexpensive to build and operate.  Dowsing can provide clues to where to look for water.  In summary, habitat, and especially water management is critical in being successful raising Texas quail for hunting.

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