Prepping 101: Collecting & Storing Rainwater for Survival – Solutions, Calculations

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This is my rudimentary rainwater collection system. I put gutters on my house, and the downspout empties directly into an IBC tote.

This is my rudimentary rainwater collection system. I put gutters on my house, and the downspout empties directly into an IBC tote.


I like to share my failures with you all along with my successes, and I have to to tell you, water, the most important resource of all, is a tough thing to collect and store successfully. I set up my own collection system over a year ago, when I first started this column in March of 2014, and water was my very first actual article. For me, the most bang for the buck was to buy some used IBC totes, which I showed you in that article. Then I had gutters installed on my house, with the downspouts directly feeding into the tanks. The result was a lot of water, but a year and a half later, it’s not as simple. I also tried an alternate water collection system, as I’ll explain, and that is still giving me fits.

Put your total square inches into the top box. For example, a 50 x 50 roof (600 inches by 600 inches) would be 360,000 square inches. It becomes cubic inches with one inch of rain (x 1).

To calculate how much water you can collect from the roof of your house, measure the outside dimensions of the roof. Because there is pitch to the roof, the square inches of the panels themselves are irrelevant. If it rains one inch, that means that straight down, if you have a one inch by one inch collector, it will be one inch full. So if your roof measurements are 50 feet by 50 feet, for simplicity, that’s 360,000 square inches. If you collect all of the water that falls, that adds up to 1,558 gallons per inch of rain. Look up the average rainfall for your area, and you’ll be able to figure out just how much water you can store over the course of a year. Phoenix Arizona gets just over 8 inches of rain over 30 days per year. Miami gets about 62 inches over 135 days. Therefore for me, I could conceivably collect 96,596 gallons of water per year.

The trick is, most places have rainy seasons and dry seasons, and during the rainy season there is no way you can collect and store all of that water, unless you have built a proper cistern. If you have no water at all in your area, a proper cistern might be as much as 2 or 3 gallons per day per person in between the longest dry stretch of no rain. According to the WHO, in a PDF you can download about survival water, the minimum water you need to drink is 2.5 liters per day on average. Call it a half gallon. So if you have 4 people, and it goes 4 months without raining, that works out to 60 gallons per person, or 240 gallons. One IBC tote, which I promise you that you can find locally for $250 or less, holds 275 gallons. That gives you a little bit for sponge baths too, and brush your teeth until the toothpaste runs out for heavens sake ok.

Most prepping and survival blogs claim that you need 2 gallons or more per person per day, but the WHO says that it is much less than that for just water to drink.

Most prepping and survival blogs claim that you need 2 gallons or more per person per day, but the WHO says that it is much less than that for just water to drink.


Plastic Mart has tanks that will fit through your apartment door that hold several hundred gallons, right up to this almost 4,000 gallon tank to bury in the back yard. If you have a lot of people, even 30 inches of rain in your area could provide plenty of water from your roof, if you have a way to hold it all with a couple of these tanks.

Plastic Mart has tanks that will fit through your apartment door that hold several hundred gallons, right up to this almost 4,000 gallon tank to bury in the back yard. If you have a lot of people, even 30 inches of rain in your area could provide plenty of water from your roof, if you have a way to hold it all with a couple of these tanks.


In my first article I linked to Plastic Mart, and they sell tanks of all sizes, including large tanks that fit through the door of an apartment, and even huge multi-thousand gallon tanks designed to be buried specifically as a cistern. Even though rainwater is filled with nanoparticles of aluminum these days from the aerosol spraying of our atmosphere, as we are being sprayed like insects, rainwater is clean, and you can live on it without concern for parasites, cysts, harmful bacteria, or chemicals above the nanometer size.

If you don’t use your water, that is where the problems arise. Like you, I’m waaaaay too busy with life responsibilities these days. For maybe three months I reliably put a tablespoon of pool shock into my water containers once a month, then closed them up tight. At some point, I procrastinated it, then I saw that algae was growing and that I should empty them and clean the tanks and start over again. A year and a half later, that wasn’t so easy. The algae by now was really heavy, so I had to pressure wash the entire inside of the tanks, then wipe out the insides with a towel and a broomhandle. Then, well let me back up. I also never finished putting my gutter guards on the gutters, soooo, turns out there is two inches of compost in the entire gutter system that first needed to get cleaned out. Several hours on a ladder later, I am now ready for it to rain again, twice, because I need to let the dirty water in the gutters run out first. I’m actually going to just fill one of the tanks with city water for now, just so I know I have some backup.

This is the mess that was inside my water tank after a year and a half of neglect. I suspect the water wouldn't have tasted great, but no, I didn't taste it. Other than the algae it was crystal clear, and still better than having to leave to try to get some water.

This is the mess that was inside my water tank after a year and a half of neglect. I suspect the water wouldn’t have tasted great, but no, I didn’t taste it. Other than the algae it was crystal clear, and still better than having to leave to try to get some water.


What a mess! In the first article I had warned against relying on your swimming pool for drinking water. Because besides the chemicals that most pool service companies add to the chlorine, without regular chlorine any pool will turn green. Now granted, the water in the buckets was still free of all the bad stuff. A year and a half later it would probably have a stale taste to it, but you could live on it. And most importantly, you don’t have to leave your home to go somewhere to drag it back, exposing yourself.

After I refill the tanks I am painting the white ones black. The one black tank I was able to get from my local source had far less algae in it, which makes sense because algae needs sunlight to grow. You could do the same thing by putting a tarp over your tanks, but the UV here in Florida destroys tarps in about a month.

Adding Cubic Inches, or… “How to Hide a Water Collection System in the Trees”

A drain tarp has a built in spigot for the water to escape. Generally they are threaded for a garden hose.

A drain tarp has a built in spigot for the water to escape. Generally they are threaded for a garden hose.


It is hard to boil life down to a numbers game, but unfortunately that is what survival entails. There are times during the dry season that it rains. Sometimes it’s an inch of rain, sometimes a half inch, sometimes a couple inches. Because our weather is now completely geoengineered, rain is really a crapshoot no matter where you live. We have had a new phenomenon of dry ground strike lightning here in Florida, but at least someone paid enough to keep the hurricanes away since 2005.

To capture every square inch of rain, you may want to think about investing in some “drain tarps.” The best place I have found is Global Industrial, but you can Google it and you’ll see a lot of options (which may all be affiliate sites for them actually). There are even some on Amazon, but they don’t seem to be cheaper for what you get than Global Industrial either. They come in various thicknesses and sizes, and all of them have a hole and spigot built into them. The spigot is threaded for a garden hose. Of course you can also make your own with common parts from Home Depot, but I have looked around and it doesn’t look like you save anything. You get what you pay for with tarps.

It was not as easy as I thought to find four trees that were square enough to each other to tie up the four corners.  I chose the 20x20 size figuring that it would be easy, but it was not.

It was not as easy as I thought to find four trees that were square enough to each other to tie up the four corners. I chose the 20×20 size figuring that it would be easy, but it was not.


Even a 7 x 7 tarp gets you 30 extra gallons of water per inch of rain. I bought 20 x 20 size, but them come up to 30 x 30. A 20 x 20 is 57,600 square inches, which equals 249 gallons per inch of rain. That fills a whole IBC tote almost! I also found a 30 x 50 on another site for $499. That’s like 216,000 square inches, and almost 1,000 gallons per inch of rain, which is a lot.

Getting the rain to actually go into the tote is a whole other ordeal, and one I have not entirely conquered, but I’m still working on it. I bought the heavy duty tarp with the sewn in D rings for the sides and corners, figuring that I would find 4 trees that are fairly square to each other and tie off the corners. What I didn’t realize was that these tarps are made to catch leaks in ceilings, so the entire concept of a reliable drain tarp somewhat depends on level and square corners. Tied to trees and tree branches, getting them the same height and square, for me, was nearly impossible.

I found it nearly impossible without perfectly square mounting points to get the tarp to work properly, so I threaded the D rings with a rope to pull two edges up. It works now.

I found it nearly impossible without perfectly square mounting points to get the tarp to work properly, so I threaded the D rings with a rope to pull two edges up. It works now.


My answer was to thread the middle D rings with a rope, and pull the edges of the tarp up, to make a bowl. That has worked, but it took a few tries, where the water just spilled on the ground. Tying the edges up does reduce your square inches of course, but you have to do what you have to do.

Here I also should note that in some parts of the country, it is already unlawful to collect rainwater for your own use. I haven’t looked into specifically where this is, but if you are in one of those areas, probably in the West, you know it. Collectivism is only going to get worse as the situation gets worse, and don’t think that the collapse has to come in with a bang. We are already currently sliding into the collapse. Workforce participation rate is at an all time low, and the Fed is out of bullets to try to keep their stock market and real estate bubbles alive. It could gradually just get worse and worse so that collectivism puts the people at the 100% mercy of the government. Hiding your water collection, or at least having the option to, is probably a good idea. I got black tarps, not white ones. And now that this article is out, I’m going to nicely fold my tarp back up and put it away.

I also couldn't tie the corners off to the same height, so I had to guess at level. You can't tie the tarp square tight or it won't have a depression for the water, so it really is trial by error.

I also couldn’t tie the corners off to the same height, so I had to guess at level. You can’t tie the tarp square tight or it won’t have a depression for the water, so it really is trial by error.


If anything, my experiences here with water should teach you a lesson that you have to learn and test your survival systems today, before you need them. Don’t just assume that because it makes sense it’ll work. In South Florida there is a ton of water. I can dig a hole in the my backyard, then filter it with my JustWater filters. You may not have that ability, and if you are on city water especially it would be a good time to devise a backup plan. Nobody can live without water for more than a few days, and it isn’t going to be a nice environment outside if you have to go gather it elsewhere. One thing I can tell you, the FEMA truck ain’t coming for the big one. I hope that day never comes, but it probably will, and it could be soon.

To Be Continued!

Water is such an important priority for all of us, but it is very detailed. I just discovered large bladder tanks from a supplier called “Fol-da-tank.” If you need to be covert, like if you live in Colorado, these tanks could be hidden in your home, and I need to put some effort into moving water around with 12v systems. There are also a lot of really nice high end tanks for rainwater collection at Tanks for Less, which is where I found the big bladder tanks. The important thing is to get going.

I think a black tarp is your best bet because it will naturally be hidden from overflying aircraft.

I think a black tarp is your best bet because it will naturally be hidden from overflying aircraft.

You get what you pay for with tarps. This is the heavyweight version, about $150.

You get what you pay for with tarps. This is the heavyweight version, about $150.

The other side of this tarp is silver. I would reverse the drain in a survival situation. Note the heavy D rings.

The other side of this tarp is silver. I would reverse the drain in a survival situation. Note the heavy D rings.

The drain tarp can fill directly into the tank if the tarp is higher than the water level in the tank will be when full. I have linked to these tank adapters in the article.

The drain tarp can fill directly into the tank if the tarp is higher than the water level in the tank will be when full. I have linked to these tank adapters in the article. Note that I bought the wrong adapters first, because my tanks are the course threads, and the caps I bought were the fine threads.

Note that you should not use a regular garden hose for drinking water. The rubber releases poisonous compounds. Look for white and blue RV water hose at Walmart and Home Depot.

Note that you should not use a regular garden hose for drinking water. The rubber releases poisonous compounds. Look for white and blue RV water hose at Walmart and Home Depot.

To use the tank adapter you'll need to convert the male end of the hose to female.

To use the tank adapter you’ll need to convert the male end of the hose to female.

When I say I let my tanks go, I really let them go.

When I say I let my tanks go, I really let them go.

The one black tank I have showed much less algae than the white ones. As you can see, this one is white inside too. I took this by sticking my phone inside the tank and using the flash.

The one black tank I have showed much less algae than the white ones. As you can see, this one is white inside too. I took this by sticking my phone inside the tank and using the flash.

Even though all of the tanks had a coat of algae, the water was still clear and clean. Parasites and cysts, and even bacteria, come from outside sources. This water is most likely green slimy tasting, but safe to drink.

Even though all of the tanks had a coat of algae, the water was still clear and clean. Parasites and cysts, and even bacteria, come from outside sources. This water is most likely green slimy tasting, but safe to drink.

If you buy used IBC totes, don't worry about them being ugly. The plastic is HDPE and will clean up just fine regardless of what is in them. It just takes time. The outside will probably be really ugly if they have been sitting outside.

If you buy used IBC totes, don’t worry about them being ugly. The plastic is HDPE and will clean up just fine regardless of what is in them. It just takes time. The outside will probably be really ugly if they have been sitting outside.

One of my handles broke, probably from the Florida UV disintegration, which happens to everything here. I used a wrench to open and close it.

One of my handles broke, probably from the Florida UV disintegration, which happens to everything here. I used a wrench to open and close it.

If you expect to refill your tanks periodically, make sure you use gutter covers and make sure you check them for stuff that will get through. I also use a hard plastic mesh at the tank side that I got on Amazon, but I'm thinking about making a downspout to garden hose adapter with PVC.

If you expect to refill your tanks periodically, make sure you use gutter covers and make sure you check them for stuff that will get through. I also use a hard plastic mesh at the tank side that I got on Amazon, but I’m thinking about making a downspout to garden hose adapter with PVC.

I just found these bladder tanks for covert water storage. They aren't cheap but might be worth a look.

I just found these bladder tanks for covert water storage. They aren’t cheap but might be worth a look.

Bushman and several other companies are represented at the tank companies linked here.

Bushman and several other companies are represented at the tank companies linked here.

{ 40 comments… add one }
  • kristi December 24, 2015, 11:13 pm

    you mentioned a link ” I have linked to these tank adapters in the article. Note that I bought the wrong adapters first, because my tanks are the course threads, and the caps I bought were the fine threads. ” but I don’t see the link. Can you help please?

  • William Harned December 21, 2015, 9:34 am

    I’m on the cusp of total excitement. In January 2016 I will launch “The RainBean System”. There’s been a lot of i’s to dot, and t’s to cross, and due to the proprietary nature, independent reviews will be welcome after the launch. I have lived on Rainwater for too long to not understand it’s benefits to those living “Off Grid”. BTDT. But I have still maintained RWH integrity to be within compliance of a safe and healthy regulations for most of this planet. The following is the Pre=launch preview’ https://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/d999ee83

  • tinfoil hat davy November 29, 2015, 4:51 am

    My roof is asphalt shingle, over the next 30 years it will break down and need replacing. If I ever build again I would use tile or slate if I was going to use a catchment system for potable water. I would not like that stuff in my glass long term. Right now I have a well. During power failures my generator has kept the toilets flushing. When the pump died I was glad I had a helpful neighbor. I now store a couple hundred gallons against another emergency (what if my gen blew?) If we have a SHF long emergency I will have to scram, NJ will become uninhabitable. Thanks for your thought provoking article.

  • captian-ed November 13, 2015, 11:49 pm

    Collecting rain water may not be legal in all states, in Colorado where I live it is illegal to collect rain water. A local farmer was convicted and serving time for illegally collecting rain water. You need to check with local water law, water rights and water authority board to determine if you can collect rain water.

    Just a thought…

  • Magic Rooster November 12, 2015, 8:47 am

    Paul, thanks for sharing your experiences. You are dead right about the ones who blather ” all you need to do” or “just do/use this”. They don’t have a clue and will be the first ones who knock on your door wanting help to save their “grasshopper” asses. These people remind me of the commercial where the idiot tells the man juggling chainsaws ” I GOT THIS”.
    Thanks for the article!

  • Mr. Jones November 9, 2015, 7:27 pm

    Waterbed mattress. $20-30. Comes in twin, queen, and King. How many gallons would you like to store? 124 gallons Twin, 200 gallons King.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 8:01 pm

      That’s a great idea, but I think they leak the same stuff that garden hoses leak into the water.

  • Herm November 9, 2015, 6:17 pm

    When I grew up (early 1950’s) there were some folks in the area that used rainwater off the roof to fill their cistern from which they took their drinking water. Wish I had pictures or a better diagram but will give my best description. They had a wooden box, redwood I think, in the drain tube from the gutters along the roof. this box had a top part which was designed to fill with water, probably held 5 gallons or more, then the weight of the water would cause it to dump. It was on a hinge and would flip out to the side. This allowed the dust and leaves on the roof to be dumped out of the system. Then the water would flow through the lower part of the box which had a screen on top and bottom and was filled with chunks of charcoal. I don’t know if they had any other filters in the system when the water was pumped out of the cistern or not.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 6:55 pm

      Key West didn’t have any water on the island except cisterns until the 1940s. Granted, there is a lot more crap in the air today, but there are still carribean islands living off of rainwater. The bonehead advice from scaremongers is just to make the idiots feel smart and important, and lead you to inaction.

  • Robert November 9, 2015, 5:35 pm

    I am really interested in water collection. Here in East Tennessee, we have fairly easy access to rain, steam, and lake water. I do have one of those bags with a screw on filter and a syringe to back flush it. I purchased it at Wally world in the camping supplies section. It says if properly used it can clean a million gallons. But, your article is about collecting rain water. So, my question about the purification is have you ever tried or researched the same principals of filtering the gutter water into a water barrel filled with “play sand” such as that used to filter swimming pool water in those cheap electric pumps? The very top layer of sand will coat with algae. Then seeps down and drains to another tank which can be filtered with home made charcoal? Would like to hear your thoughts on such a system. Loved your article by the way, keep helping us stay informed, thanks, Robert.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 6:54 pm

      You really don’t need to. The algae in my buckets just sticks to the sides and the water comes out clear. Can you prefilter with sand? Of course, but again, it is just an addition to the core benefit of having the water.

  • berferd November 9, 2015, 1:15 pm

    Caution should be added regarding the algae; There are many variety of algae which may end up in a water supply. Some are benign, some are toxic. Some may just look like algae, but is not. It takes trained people with lab equipment to identify what specifically may be growing in the water. One which looks like algae and is somewhat famous is not even an algae, but a bacteria. Cyanobacteria is commonly called algae. Depending on the strain, cyanobacteria can produce neurotoxins, cytotoxins, endotoxins, and hepatotoxins.
    There is no practical way to keep the literal and figurative crap from dissolving and draining, or just falling from windblown dispersions, from getting into any rainwater collection. Treat it early and often. Get a water collecting capability established.
    But don’t let some fool tell you that possibly toxic water is ok because it is clear. Some of the toxins listed above can pass through your filters, or even distillation. They may cause brain damage such that you can’t differentiate a cirrus cloud from the workings of the evil empire. That would be bad. Treat the water you collect like its purity is important.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 2:10 pm

      They cant pass through a justwater filter and chlorine treatment on a closed container once kills them.

      • berferd November 9, 2015, 4:33 pm

        Are you referring to the toxins or the bacterium?
        The toxins certainly can pass through some filters, including the Just Water type, and they are not alive, so the chlorine won’t kill them. Short of RO or deionizing, the toxins will remain in solution. These are not inconsequential. There are large sections of the oceans which are killed off by a bloom event.
        The Just Water will filter out the critters, algae or bacterium. The added carbon in the Berkey does a better job than the filters which use ceramics alone.

        • Administrator November 9, 2015, 6:52 pm

          To imply that there is any toxin in rainwater that is dangerous in the short term to human life is a scare tactic. The only advantage to carbon is that it takes out chlorine, which will bleed of anyway if you let the water sit open.

          • Berferd November 12, 2015, 3:17 pm

            Your lack of chemistry knowledge shows up when you make statements like that. Activated carbon is quite broad spectrum re what it can attract – not only chlorine.
            My question to your previous response was not answered. I did ask about your assertion that the filter would handle the task of cleaning up algae polluted storage. I would guess that reading the response should have made that clear. It also should have been abundantly clear that I’m not trying to scare anyone away from harvesting and using rainwater, but am trying to add an amount of due caution. The toxins from a decomposing bird stuck in the downspout may be small, but the potential for infectious elements which, in cystic or spore stages, can survive chlorine and filtration are real. Remember reading about cryptosporidium parvum? It can survive extended freezes, chlorine, and heat. It can remain dormant but viable for two years. It is only one of several examples. Water is critical and should be given the highest consideration, not just treated like it is self cleaning.

          • Administrator November 13, 2015, 1:42 pm

            Yeah Mad Max could show up right after you take the bird out of your gutter because his girlfriend, who has a supersmelling power, smelled cheetos coming from your compound. You can’t just assume everything is going to go wrong, because it paralyzes you into inaction. Activated charcoal will indeed absorb lots of things, but in a water filtration system it is generally used to remove chlorine. You don’t need to clean up the algae. It sticks to the sides of the tank and the water comes out crystal clear. As I said, I will be doing a part 2 to this article as I learn more, but the most important thing is that people get going now and get something in place to give them a chance.

            My criticism in general here is directed at people who are clearly commenting to inflate their own egos, and have no interest in helping their fellow man. If you wanted to be helpful you could say that if you want to filter the water, because A, B, and C might happen, I bought this this and this, and set them up like this. In fact, if you’d like to write a followup article on it, with demonstration pictures, please by all means email customer support. It is grueling for me getting these columns out every week and I could use some help.

        • Administrator November 16, 2015, 3:52 pm

          Ih please eventuall you are gonna die of something lol.

  • robert p November 9, 2015, 11:21 am

    You motivated us. Just paid for a complete gutter system. We live in South Texas, summer is the concern due to heat. Rain is mostly in the other seasons. Three topics: Once we collect rain from the roof gutters, and we will let roof rinse off before accepting rain run off, we still have concerns about safety of rainwater collected. (1) would 8 drops of Clorox per gallon suffice for safety given the water is perfectly clear after its capture? We have concerns about the containers from Plastic Water sellers. Buying lots of containers is expensive, are there other sources of water containers that are cheaper? (2) How does one evaluate whether a water container is safe to store water? We have concerns any tarp becoming a parachute. When it rains here in Texas, it really rains with gusty winds. Could you speak to an optimal size for the tarp from your experiences? Bigger collects more water but also collects more wind gusts so control might be impossible.
    Thanks for the super article. I will study it more as the gutter gets installed. It seems there ought to be a way to put on a diverter on the downpipe of the gutter to first let roof rinse off then use an alternative pathway to drain directly into a water container small enough to handle. There is no way I cam able to move some water filled container weighing hundreds of pounds.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 11:30 am

      This one flaps pretty good in the equally nasty florida wind that comes in with the big storms in the summer. I have a couple backups for when the wind and UV eventually do shred it. Containers should be HDPE, and they all say that. Try to just find an “ibc tote” locally. I have seen them come up on local facebook swap boards, and just Googling it for your area might turn up someone trying to sell them as a business, which is true of Sarasota FL, which is where these flavorings buckets came from. My first article goes over the chlorine requirements, and some high capacity filtration devices. Because the water is already really clear a filter should last indefinitely. It just comes down to what you end up doing. There is a gutter to round PVC flexible adapter at home depot you can buy, and I’m thinking about using that to connect to a PVC system that has a trap and drains via a garden hose. It’s just time and money like everything else.

  • Bill Searcher November 9, 2015, 9:56 am

    Must be a bad hair day (I get them a lot, despite being (mostly) bald 😉 –I left out a verb (and phrase in my long 2nd sentence–I added “level the tarp” below.

    Make an initial temporary installation of the tarp at a convenient working height (e.g., shoulder height). Connect the guy assemblies at the four corners and to their supports, and level the tarp by adjusting the height of the guy at each support (loosen, raise or lower, and then re-tighten the rope around the trunk with the prusik knot), then re-tighten / re-tension the ropes with the other prusik).

  • Bill Searcher November 9, 2015, 9:31 am

    I’m having trouble understanding the difficulty of getting one of those collection tarps (reasonably) level given 4 points of support that are anywhere close to a quadrilateral, and a reasonable distance from the corners of the tarp.

    Aside: I assume that , when actually collecting water, there is not much (weight) actually in the tarp at any time because it is, or should be continually draining from the tarp into the collection container.

    I would get a spool of the plastic guy line (available on ebay, typically about $50 for a 500 foot spool) used for guying antennas. I forget the precise type of plastic, but it is very strong and UV / weather resistant.

    I’d then make a guy assembly for each corner of the tarp using two pieces of rope with two adjustments using prusiks or similar knots–one end of the assembly is intended to wrap around the trunk of the tree near that corner of the tarp and be tightened with one prusik, and the other end ties to the corner of the tarp tied to the other piece with a prusik that allows the overall length of the guy to be adjusted.

    Aside: There is a better knot than a prusik for this purpose, but I can’t think of the name of it at the moment.

    Also, tie a stopper knot on the ends of the ropes going through the prusiks in case they do slip.

    Make the initial installation of the tarp at a convenient working height (e.g., shoulder height). Connect the guy assemblies at the four corners and to their supports, and by adjusting the height of the guy at each support (loosen, raise or lower, and then re-tighten the rope around the trunk with the prusik knot), then re-tighten / re-tension the ropes with the other prusik).

    You can even use a level on the edges of the tarp to get as close to level as you’d like.

    Once you have the tarp leveled at shoulder height, decide how much higher you want the tarp installed “permanently”. Then go to each tree trunk and install an eye screw in the trunk of the tree that distance above each of the temporary installations.

    Note that the eye screw should “face” the tarp so that the guy line can be tied to the guy screw without wrapping around or contacting any part of the tree–the guy rope is very durable in terms of weather / UV resistance, but constant rubbing against another object (bark or whatever) will wear it out more quickly. (And movement will occur due to wind and such.)

    For extra durability, use metal thimbles where the rope goes through the D-rings and eye screws.

    For my antennas, I used 5/16″ by about 6″ eye screws, which I’m pretty sure is overkill.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 9:49 am

      There are several places in these article where I have explained people like you. Whenever someone says “you can just,” it means they have never done it, and they are talking out of the part of their body that nice things don’t come out of. Why don’t you to buy a tarp, so you don’t die of thirst, and make one, get your level out, while you are standing on your ladder that is on a branch, get those corners nice and level, oh, and square. Take pictures, or video, and you can write us a followup article. Just email customer support and we’ll get it right out for you, and we’ll all be grateful for you just setting us straight.

  • Alan November 9, 2015, 8:54 am

    Some should check their local laws first, here in Colorado, it’s illegal to store rainwater, believe it or not.
    Yes, I’m aware some don’t care, but just don’t do it flagrantly.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 9:23 am

      That is the point of the black drain tarps under trees as well.

      • larry kocik November 9, 2015, 2:42 pm

        In Boulder County Colorado, it’s illegal to collect rainwater for storage, off your own roof. We have “water” courts that report to the state engineer. We have federal compacts that go back to the mid 1800s with the homestead act. We have to let water from the Colorado go unimpeded to California so those idiots can wash their BMWs, while our ranchers and farmers have to suffer drought conditions.
        All this is to say; without water your screwed…….

  • Ted November 9, 2015, 8:28 am

    If you really want to understand and obtain absolute knowledge of water, water storage, wells etc, go to youtube and look up engineer775. He and a friend, Southernprepper1 helped to create or advise the TV show about preppers. They were the guys that rated them. Both guys can tell you how to store water, what are the best ways to store it with NO algae, to bury or not water containers, etc. I have learned more about wells from engineer775 than I ever could asking a well drilling company. Scott Hunt, engeneer775, is the master of water. He is not cheap but will consult with you over the phone also. I normally would not plug someone this hard if at all but I have been watching his videos for years now and the guy is a stand up an, honorable and has integrity, hard to find these days. He just knows what he’s doing. I have spoken personally to both Scott and David from Southernprepper1 and they will give advice over the phone, at least guide you in the right direction. They do want to make a living but really just want people to prep correctly. These are the kinds of guys I wish I could call my friends. So if you want solid knowledge of water storage, look Scott Hunt up.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 9:43 am

      His stuff is great but extremely involved, and can paralyze people into inaction. What is the incremental benefit to spending 100 hours and an extra $1,000 on your water catchment system? Compare that to using 100 hours to learn about food storage, radiation detection, fallout shelters, cooking with wood, diesel, gasoline, and about a dozen other topics we have had to discuss here. You are much better to do everything ok, than one or two things well. Water is of course the most important of all resources, but if you don’t know how to measure your environment for both high and low levels of radiation (two distinct types of meters), you will most likely die after the people who run the nuke plants die of starvation. It’s awesome to have such a resource, and I am going to be covering basic hand pumps and 12v pumps in an upcoming article, but most people are on city water and have a limited budget for their survival plans. Unless you research the links I have given you to geoengineeringwatch.org, most people will not be “all in” when it comes to survival. And even those of us who do deeply understand what is really going on out there, who knows how long they will keep this fake reality afloat. We all have to live now, and make a living, and not be carted off to the nuthouse by our relatives. Things are starting to heat up now, literally, so that last part is getting less and less relevant. Point being, like many of my comments on this article, don’t let anyone paralyze you into inaction. And don’t discount that this article itself, combined with my first water article, is as exhaustive as you have to be to start. I don’t see any water calculations in the engineer77’s videos. But maybe if you spending 150 hours watching them, it’s in there *somewhere*. This article should have you out trying to get a tank and having gutters installed today.

      He also is selling a “report” that is a complete scam. As I suspected, the system is complicated for the sake of being complicated, so you think you need all that stuff to be able to use rainwater, which you don’t.

  • William Harned November 9, 2015, 8:26 am

    I enjoyed your article, I have many years of experience in RWH. I am preparing to launch RainBean System kits in the following month with an upgraded update to the preliminary design is as follows: https://rainworks.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/rainbean-system-design/ . However the upgraded final design will look similar. Mind you the system design has followed all universal parameters for all USA and global requirements to provide continuous fresh water. I hope I can add to your article with the following; Harvested rainwater should be very clean and not contain; Debris (organic or inorganic), Pollens, Hay seeds, Pesticides, Herbicides, Fertilizers, Dust, Volcanic ash, Bird, Lizard, and Rodent excrement, etc. The initial rainwater that washes off the roof at the beginning of a rain event may contain any of the above, and needs to be removed as much as possible prior to capture. These materials may also host harmful bacteria, or pathogens. The patent pending “RainBean Dual Stage Diverter (removes most debris above 100 microns), and Pre-filter (removes most debris above 10 microns)”, removing the above hosting debris reduces the largest amount of potential bacteria. At this point normally, the water may not be potable. But, with the additional patent pending “RainBean First Flush Control Valve Assembly” and a First Flush tank, it works extremely well by capturing the finer deposited organic or inorganic contaminates during the Roof-Wash-Off procedure (think cloudy water). Such residue can also alter the rainwater pH. Because of these many concerns; the RainBean configuration calculator app provides the first flush tank size requirements.
    Regards, Bill

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 9:27 am

      If you think about it, there is no way to guarantee that you will be eliminating things that come off the roof. Therefore you should treat with chlorine or pure shock to kill off the organic matter. The luxury we have here with the prepping stuff is that we don’t sell anything. Your valve might be great, but without an independed review, it is just something that you are trying to sell.

  • Rich November 9, 2015, 8:05 am

    Sorry to say, but I wouldn’t plan on used totes to store water in. None of them have only been used for water transport. They have all contained a chemical of some sort. I really dug into this. Even the ones listed as having only been exposed to “food grade” liquids are out for me. I obtained the descriptive information sheets for a few products that had come in used totes that I was thinking of purchasing. Every one of them had some level of toxicity listed +/or contained carcinogens. Maybe you can find some that don’t come with concerns but unless you do, I’d purchase new ones.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 8:16 am

      You really shouldn’t give advice with almost zero experience. For one, the tanks I have used to have flavorings in them. They are marked raspberry and vanilla and smelled like the flavorings. If the ones you checked had bad chems in them, fine, maybe you don’t want them, but HDPE that has sat open for a while after being washed out completely is probably fine. Dish soap removes a lot of stuff, and water is itself a super solvent. You have to use your head, and completely ignore comments from naysayers who will scare you into inaction. Have you looked into the absorption properties of HDPE? It is surprisingly impermeable for a plastic, but not perfect of course. A theoretic carcinogen compared to dying without water? The state of calornia has found that wearing hanes underwear causes cancer. I hope you got your flu shot. There are a million things that can theoretically harm you out there, but you need water.

  • Chris November 9, 2015, 8:00 am

    your article mentions a tank for the apartment…remember a gallon of water weighs eight pounds!
    If you are trying to store very much then weight becomes a factor!!
    Nothing worse than have your water storage container crash through the roof of your neighbor below you

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 8:03 am

      Why do self appointed experts have to try to scare people into inaction? Filled slowly, a water tank isn’t going to break through your floor. Over time it could bow it, but we don’t have a ton of time here.

  • jim November 9, 2015, 7:30 am

    You continually dump shock chemicals in your water? ugh… I date and rotate a set of stored water containers MONTHLY. The water is used for laundry. In this fashion I never have to replenish the entire supply; only a couple of containers are cycled each month.
    In this fashion your water is always fresh (doesn’t contain twelve doses of “shock” chems and there is no waste. All stored water is used efficiently.
    Cycling these containers once a month (the laundry load occurring on the first weekend) makes it a matter of routine and not difficult to remember or perform.

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 7:43 am

      If you read my water article you will see that there is one type of shock that doesn’t have the water softening additives. It is no different that the chlorine in your drinking water, and can be bled off in open air before use.

  • michael greene November 9, 2015, 6:48 am

    That was a GREAT article!! I learned a whole lot about a whole lot of issues with collecting rainwater that I hadn’t thought of.
    I used to stay in Elbow Cay, Bahamas, where all the houses have buried cisterns. Most of these people are dirt poor,but healthy, and I doubt if they had the wherewithal to buy chemical and filters. I’d like to know more about algae and its effects on drinkability. If indeed it just looks awful.. and it couldn’t look worse, in my opinion, then it would save a lot of trouble if it could be disregarded.
    One thing..My gutter guards work ok for larger stuff, but there is still a lot of tiny crap ( the gunk in the gutters) that should be filtered out before storing. I’d like to see that issue addressed.
    Overall a great article. Thanks a bunch !!

    • Administrator November 9, 2015, 7:25 am

      I just got some plastic mesh to put at the end of the gutter before the bucket, but I think it will have to be watched to see if it plugs up and diverts the water out of the bucket. That is always the concern with any filter.

      • jim November 9, 2015, 7:37 am

        I saw one of the most effective devices used for eliminating solids from the flow employed by a CA Utility Company that collects river water for turbines and etc.
        Water from the river is diverted to a small basin. The basin fills and overflows a retaining wall. The velocity of the water is slowed and the sediments fall out into the catch basin. No filters to clog. The system also used a gerbil-wheel that rotated. With its axis horizontally oriented, leaves and buoyant debris would be skimmed from the surface…. with gutter screens, this part of the process would be unnecessary.

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