View Full Version : Rain Barrel Project

April 8th, 2010, 04:17 PM
Hey folks,

Wow I forgot I was registered on here! So here is the situation..

I going to make a rain barrel catchment for my house, so I am looking specifically for plastic food-grade drums. I prefer the common 55 gallon size.

My question: does anybody know where I can find these?

I plan to check with a few places:

1. Home Depot - Although I think they will be very expensive.

2. Soft-drink manufacturers - for used barrels.

3. Home/Garden shops - Although they probably will not carry them, maybe they know of other resources.

Any more ideas? I know about the workshops that the Board of Water Supply does with Xeriscape. However, I contacted them and they said the next one is in August, on top of which, it is not guaranteed that everyone will be able to buy 55 gal barrels. Bummers!

If others are interested I will post what I come up with.


April 8th, 2010, 04:41 PM
try craigs list...this is from hilo side...maybe similar one on oahu

we have 50 gallon heavy duty steel drums, that have a food grade sprayed on liner inside.
Were used for transporting food stuffs,only used 1 time.
Also have burn barrels for $20. each
Serious buyers please call an hour before your available to pick up the barrels so we can accomindate your arrival.
Please call 720-244-1731 to set up pick up time. Located 12 miles from hilo in kurtistown.

April 8th, 2010, 05:50 PM
I hope you keep us up-to-date on your catchment project. Are you using any online resources for planning? Are you looking for steel or plastic containers? Don't have to worry about rust with plastic, but I guess you need to keep sunlight out.

2. Soft-drink manufacturers - for used barrels.

That's a good idea, like Hawaiian Sun or Aloha Maid. I don't know for sure, but maybe Love's or Diamond Head Bakery. Here's a list of food manufacturers:


If you have any luck, let us know. I don't have the space for a barrel now, but I might want to get a few in the future.

April 8th, 2010, 07:04 PM
Interesting guide published by the Texas Water Development Board:


April 8th, 2010, 09:52 PM
Here's a good place to start (http://www.hawaiirain.org/)

You can try online as not too many home improvement centers carry rainbarrels. One place in particular online is this place (http://www.rainbarrelsandmore.com/?gclid=CNvsp-2O-aACFQ2lagodLxNHug).

On the Big Island you can call Waterworks at 808-933-9111. They sell catchment systems here on the Big Island.

Are you planning on using water catchment for irrigation or consumption? From the sound of your post it's for consumption.

I'm on catchment here on the Big Island with two 5,000 gallon fiberglass tanks. Small in comparison to others that have 20,000 gallon tanks.

For those who can't afford the dollar a gallon formula for tanks, they use small vinyl pools you can buy at Walmart. The problem with these are they leach PVC in sunlight and are not recommended for potable water storage. They can be used with proper filteration however although it's not recommended. But with the high cost of tanks, people use it quite often here on the Big Island.

Filtration is key here and can range from a combination of Sediment/Charcoal/Pur tap filters in that order to the more elaborate UV/reverse osmosis filtering systems that cost a bundle more.

Depending on where you live the first setup is typically okay with an occasional mix of Clorox (one cup per 5,000 gallons) or three drops per gallon to kill microbes. The sediment filter takes out the obvious contaminants while the charcoal takes out any odor such as the chlorine from the Clorox. At that point the water is safe enough for cooking and taking showers. I add a Pur water faucet filter to take out the cysts that pass thru the charcoal filter. At that point the water is potable.

April 8th, 2010, 10:10 PM
Also, read this (http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/RM-12.pdf).

April 8th, 2010, 10:26 PM
That's a good resource you dug up. I was trying to find it but couldn't find the link to UH's water catchment resources. 10,000 gallons can be sufficient during drought condition as my family size is six and we go thru approximately 250-gallons of water per day. This last drought forced us to purchase 15,000 gallons of water in three loads at $130 per load. This was when we had no rain for two weeks at a time, several times during the long drought period. When it did rain, we got maybe enough to refill what we used in that day, roughly 250-gallons.

You would think that with our load and storage it shouldn't have been a problem. However with the drought comes heat. Heat that evaporates water as well. Catchment tanks by nature have to be open at the roof gutters so it's a natural vent as well as it's overflow spillways. After this last drought I'm thinking about putting valves on the intakes and spillways to alleviate evaporation.

April 9th, 2010, 10:06 AM
escondido100 - Cool thanks for that! Craigslist came to mind but I thought it would be too rare a chance to score big barrels on there. Now that I do look, there are a few ads on there, only one fitting one for steel drums though hmm! will have to think about that ad..

MyopicJoe - Awesome thank you for the link! That should be very helpful! With all these responses I will definitely be coming back and updating the thread with what happens. :)

craigwatanabe - I never saw this page, this may be very useful as well, thank you! At this point the purpose is for emergency use, so mostly consumption. I visit the Big Island often so I see all those huge catchments people have, I've actually lived in several houses that used them, I remember loud pumps turning on every time we'd use a faucet! I never appreciated it as a kid. Now I would be saying, "Cool! Can I see your setup??" :P Filtration/purification is another step I've been looking into. I don't know how excited I'd be about pumping so many gallons a day through my little Katadyn Pocket Filter! lol Thank you again for your reply and all the info, it's much appreciated.

MyopicJoe - Free Shipping! I guess they never expected Hawaii folk to come across their page lol

Eric - Excellent thank you so much! Wow this is like the water catchment bible with illustrations and diagrams, too. Outstanding!

craigwatanabe - Very good point, thank you for sharing that. It sounds like a valve on the intake would be an essential feature. It would take some real commitment to opening and closing the valve when you need to though.

Thank you all!

April 9th, 2010, 10:39 AM
Niimo if this is for emergency purposes only, then I'd suggest just buying a Menehune water fountain for drinking or store cases of bottled water. At our home we always keep two 24-count cases of bottled water on hand. That lasts us until we need another case.

If you're concerned about non-potable use of water (washing clothes, bathing, dishes, or even flushing toilets, I'd just go with a vinyl swimming pool or even a large plastic garbage can outfitted with a pump or a spigot.

Just make sure though if you plan on plumbing your catchment system into your water pipes, you make sure there is a back flow check valve to keep your water from entering the county's water system. In some counties, it's illegal to have a catchment system for one of two reasons: 1) contaminating county water lines and 2) you may not have water rights to harvest rainfall that could otherwise percolate into the county's water table for public use.

There are some water pumps that use no pressure tanks that are so quiet, your washing machine makes more noise than this thing. The manufacturer is Grundfos (http://www.grundfos.com/web/homeus.nsf) and their pumps are verrry quiet. They are more expensive however but worth the price.

April 9th, 2010, 09:08 PM
I'm glad to see a bunch of HT'ers have experience with this stuff. Big Island folk seem pretty self-sufficient / reliant. Thanks for the links.

If Niimo's system is for emergency use, one idea is to connect an outdoor faucet to a series of barrels and leave it open. Add a new faucet at the end. Use that faucet like you would normally do. If the county line loses pressure, the water in the barrels acts like a reserve. The water stays fresh because you're using the system regularly.

This is just an idea. I don't have any personal experience with it. I imagine your barrels need to keep light out so algae doesn't grow. Your piping needs to be able to handle the pressure from the county line. If your system springs a leak while you're away, you might have to pay a lot for the lost water.

I'm sure the experienced people will chime in.

April 12th, 2010, 09:17 AM
First thing I'd do is to monitor how much water you use daily/weekly/monthly then determine how big of a catchment system you need for emergency use. Check your water meter and do daily readings. Subtract the difference in readings and if your meter has a multiplier, factor that in for usage.

April 20th, 2010, 04:01 AM
Hey folks, sorry for the short time away. I haven't make much progress with the rain barrel, I've been working on some other things. However, I did find some decent 7 gal. water containers at Walmart for $12 each. Since I plan to have a sort of multi-layered emergency water storage I picked one up. Would have bought two or more, but the one problem I have with those containers and many like them is that the mouth is not wide enough to reach inside and scrub/clean it. Oh well, it is something. They also had large 5 or 7 gal. Igloo water coolers which I thought would be a good (though more expensive) alternative to solve that problem.

Craig - The problem I have with bottled water is that I don't use it on a daily basis, I use re-fillable containers, Nalgiene and Sigg. And the Menehune dispenser is a bit much for me, although the 5 gallon jugs are a possibility. The vinyl pool would be too temporary, and too much of an eye-sore I think. I could also see the issue of things getting nasty. The garbage can is a maybe if I can find a good quality one.. I will look into that. I won't be plumbing the catchment into my pipes so I don't need to think about those issues, though thanks for bringing it up! Well good to know we have some good options for water pumps now, man those things use to be so loud! lol thanks again for all your suggestions. :)

MyopicJoe - Interesting idea! Maybe complex for me to start out with, but definitely a possibility in the future to have something like that going. I do intent to install a faucet to the barrel. As far as algae growth, I figure I will need to empty and scrub out the barrel every so often. It does give good reason to have two and rotate cleaning them. Probably more work than I am imagining it will be. We will see heh!

April 20th, 2010, 07:03 AM
I did find some decent 7 gal. water containers at Walmart for $12 each. Since I plan to have a sort of multi-layered emergency water storage I picked one up.

Howdy, niimo. Thanks for the update. Glad to see your project is getting some momentum. Starting small is a good way to figure out what works and what doesn't. Small keeps things fun!

April 23rd, 2010, 09:42 PM
MyopicJoe - Yep, I am stoked! And today I had a breakthrough and got two 55 gallon food-grade barrels! :D Shoulda known Craigslist would be the place.

I plan to document the making of the rain barrels. Though it may take a while, I will update!

April 24th, 2010, 10:06 AM
set your barrels up high so you get good gravity feed, but make sure it's below the gutters or it'll never fill.