rain barrel near a house
Photo: John Glover/ Garden Picture Library
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Rainwater Collection Systems

"The population is growing, but the water supply is not," says Bill Hoffman, a coordinator for the City of Austin Water Conservation Program, in Texas. That's why people around the country are turning to the centuries-old practice of collecting rain as an alternative source of water.

By collecting rain from a roof during wet months and storing it in a tank or cistern, homeowners can create an alternative supply that won't tax the groundwater or jack up the water bill. And because rain doesn't contain the minerals found n wells or the chlorine in municipal supplies, it's ideal for watering the lawn, washing the car, doing the laundry, taking a shower—even drinking if it's properly filtered.

"Rainwater is the purest water you can find," says Dr. Hari Krishna, president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA).
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