The sides of his home feature a network of downspouts that connect to this underground system. These pipes then connect with a 5,000-gallon tank behind the house. The 5,000-gallon tank is buried nearly halfway underground. As water fills the tank, most of the dirt and sediment stays on the bottom.
“I do not do ‘first flush,’” Joe said. “I use my first tank as a first flush and clean it once a year.”
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He explained that the water that flows into his other two “clean” tanks is free of dirt and sediment, and then he adds a small amount of bleach to kill any bacteria.
“Most municipalities use chorine, and I just do that to a lesser scale,” he said. All water that is used for drinking or cooking passes through a Berkey Water Filter system, as well.
The fruit trees on the property are watered exclusively by rainwater and gray water from the home. Other trees and his garden are watered by an extensive sloping system that carries rainwater and overflow from the gutters downhill.
One pool shown in the video is about three and one-half feet deep and holds about 500 gallons of water, Joe estimated. He uses a bucket to scoop water from the rainwater pools to water his garden and other trees.
Joe, who modestly calls much of his rainwater harvesting system “jerry-rigged,” said he got many of his ideas by reading books by rainwater harvesting expert Brad Lancaster.
At the time the video was made, Joe also was working on building a sunken greenhouse, which he plans to water completely with rainwater, and a new garden that is situated on a slope that catches rainwater and allows run-off to run downhill to other parts of the garden.
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