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How to Build Your Own Rainwater Harvesting System
Source: GA Sierra Club

Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Because of Atlanta's severe watering restrictions, Jorg Voss decided to develop a way to harvest significant amounts of water through a Rainwater Harvesting System. Learn how you can build your own system!
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  You would have to be asleep not to have heard about the water war that has been going on in Georgia. Alabama, Georgia and Florida have been fighting over water rights to the Chattahoochee River that feeds the city of Atlanta.

For over three years, residents in Atlanta have been under severe watering restrictions and the local landscaping industry has been significantly hurt by these new directives from state government. You only have to look at the many empty docks on Lake Lanier to see that the water has retreated hundreds of yards from the shoreline.

It was with this back drop that a retired engineer Jorg Voss decided to develop a way to harvest significant amounts of water through a Rainwater Harvesting System. Mr Voss likes to let people know that you can save over 500 gallons of water with just one quarter inch of rain!

Jorg and his wife Margret have a ½ acre flower garden in Roswell Georgia that is teaming with perennials and native plants that were rescued from developers. This garden is sometimes on garden tours and it requires a great deal of water to stay healthy.

After looking at the high price of rain barrels at upscale garden supply stores, Jorg decided to save money by building a system from off-the-shelf materials that you can find at any hardware store. Instead of Rain barrels that cost $90 each, he opted for the use of regular refuse barrels which one can purchase for as little as $15. Unlike the rain barrels that use spigots and pails, this system utilizes a very simple submersible pump to take water to the garden. It saves a lot of time and effort in transporting water with buckets.

Soon many people were beginning to hear about this very practical way of saving huge amounts of water and the Atlanta Journal sent reporters to see how it was constructed. They were excited about what they saw! The AJC wrote a wonderful article on the system and this caught the eye of the Jennifer Carlile at the City of Atlanta Watershed Management.

Jennifer proposed that the City create a video on the system that could be viewed by residents but Mr. Voss had an alternative idea. Why not create a web based training program that all residents could access? It could be far better than a procedure list and more complete than a video…..a step by step approach that will give each resident the details that they need to build the entire system.

With the help of a friend from the corporate training world, this idea has become a reality. David Klepinger and Jorg Voss have developed a self paced e-learning module which gives the average homeowners everything that they need to build their own system….regardless of their expertise as craftsmen.

The training gives you helpful print outs providing materials checklists, and a listing of the required tools. The training also allows you to replay the tutorial until you completely understand the building process.

You can access these wonderful e-learning modules on the City of Atlanta Watershed Management website:

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