Eco-Friendly Garden Tour – Rainwater Catchment Homestead


Focus on Rainwater Catchment

Eco-Tour Picture 1

Santa Rosa resident Jesse Froehlich thinks everyone should be able to harvest rainwater, so she set out to make that possible, founding BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment Systems in 2012.

This west Santa Rosa residence features an 8-barrel BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System (440 gallons) that was installed on February 21, 2015 in one of BlueBarrel’s hands-on workshops. 10 community members rolled up their sleeves to help with the installation.

BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment Systems

Jesse developed her first system in 2010 as an AmeriCorps project with Conservation Corps North Bay at the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden located in Novato, CA. Her assignment was to build a 1,500 gallon rainwater catchment system with a budget of only $1,000. Jesse and project partner John came up with what ended up being the prototype for the BlueBarrel System, using 22 food-grade plastic barrels and associated hardware in a narrow corridor next to the farm’s greenhouse.

BB-SystemThe BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™ is made from repurposed 55-gallon barrels, daisy-chained together for a streamlined look, maximum efficiency of flow, and no limit to the amount of storage capacity you can install. BlueBarrel facilitates a local exchange for repurposed barrels on their website, and will ship the rest of the materials to your door in a customizable DIY (Do-It-Yourself) RainKit™.

Rainwater Harvesting & Available Rebates

Rainwater harvesting is the simple act of collecting the rainwater that runs off the hardscapes on your site for beneficial use. There are passive methods for rainwater harvesting, including infiltration basins and bio-swales, that slow or stop the flow of runoff across your site. This allows stormwater to infiltrate into the ground, hydrating soils and recharging groundwater. And there are active methods of rainwater harvesting, such as catching and storing the water in barrels for later use. If used in the garden, stored rainwater will hydrate soils and recharge groundwater. With active rainwater harvesting, you control when and how the water is used.

Benefits of rainwater harvesting:

  1. Reduce peak demands on the water supply system by using stored water for outdoor irrigation during the summer months.
  2. Increase the amount of water that infiltrates into the ground, recharging groundwater.
  3. Reduce the load on stormwater and creek systems by diverting runoff water into storage.
  4. Reduce energy consumption embedded in the delivery of potable water.
  5. Plants like rainwater as it is free of salts and tends to be slightly acidic.
  6. Rainwater can be treated to potable water standards providing an emergency supply.
  7. Once installed a rainwater harvesting system provides a free supply of water for years to come.
  8. Collecting rainwater connects you to the hydrologic cycle and to your outdoor water consumption.

City of Santa Rosa and North Marin Water District water customers can take advantage of a rainwater harvesting rebate of $0.25 per gallon of storage. Visit their respective websites for further information, terms, and conditions.