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Rainwater Harvesting

Why use rain barrels in San Diego?

Sunny San Diego is not a location that pops into someone’s mind when they think of rain and definitely not a location that is thought to be ideal for rainwater harvesting. But San Diego is exactly the kind of place that needs to harvest rainwater. Before the benefits of rain harvesting are discussed, it is best to clarify what rainwater harvesting is.

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What is the key idea behind harvesting rain?

A household or business that collects rainwater for future use.

Rainwater capture is achieved by placing a barrel (usually 50 gallons) below a downspout. The downspout is the part of the rain gutter system that runs up and down a building’s exterior walls. Please see the pictures below for rain barrel system examples.

What benefits would San Diegans gain by rainwater harvesting?

There are three main benefits that rainwater harvesting provides:

Resource Conservation

Rainwater harvesting will help San Diego conserve water, reducing stress on this precious resource. The strain on our water supply is a serious issue. Harvesting rainwater is one of many tools that San Diegans can utilize to help safeguard our water resources. For further water conservation tips, please see the City of San Diego’s water conservation tips website.

By conserving water, San Diego also indirectly reduces energy consumption. San Diego gets the majority of its water from the Colorado River and San Joaquin Valley. To transport this water to San Diego, pumps powered by electricity are needed. When San Diegans reduce their water consumption they also help California conserve energy by decreasing the amount of water pumped from these two principle sources.

Pollution Prevention

Capturing rainwater reduces the amount of runoff entering storm drains and nearby water bodies. Runoff contains pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers, litter, and heavy metals. The runoff can directly enter water bodies or be carried through the stormwater conveyance system to outlets in nearby rivers, lakes, and ocean areas. Decreasing runoff helps keep San Diego beaches and aquatic systems clean.

Free Water for Gardens & Landscapes

Water from rain harvesting lacks chlorine, fluoride, and dissolved solids, providing terrific water for landscapes. Additionally, this water is free and may reduce monthly water bills, saving money.

Mosquitos: Fight the Bite!

As with any water left outside, it is imporant to make sure mosquitos are kept out of your rain barrel. Check out the San Diego County Department of Enironmental Health's Fight the Bite page for more information.