Water collection?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I want to collect rainwater from my roof. I have asphalt shingles (approx 10 yrs old) and aluminum gutters. Is it possible to filter this water for consumption? Any health hazards or special concerns? Filter recommendations? Thanks for your help.

-- Seth Townsend (javaseth@aol.com), March 03, 1999


Hmmm, that's a good question. I have newer shingles but have the same concerns. I know that you would have to filter the larger pieces of asphalt that usually breaks off the shingles, and keep the gutters clear of leaves and debris, but what other concerns are there? Don't most roof shingles have fiberglass also?

-- Lurker (eye@spy.net), March 03, 1999.

I built my own rainwater filter:

* 55 gallon drum, drill a 3/8" hole in the bottom, insert tube and caulk the inside with food grade caulk. Run the tube to a collection bucket.

* Put 4" gravel on the bottom

* add a couple of inches of activated charcoal (aquarium supplies, not cheap)

* fill to within 6" of the top with sand

* place cloth over the top to prevent washing. Hold cloth down with a few stones. The cloth also serves as a second filter layer.

* put under downspout. Put screen over the top of the downspout in order to catch the big stuff.

* be sure to add chlorine to the water. If you have a filter (PUR, British Berfield, Katadyn, you can filter the water after chlorination in order to get the taste out, but the activated charcoal should do the job of getting the undesirables out. Course, if you have one of those filters you don't need to do anything more than just get the bird droppings out before filtering.

* you might want to let the first half hour of rain water go uncollected in order to wash down the roof and the gutters.

Good luck

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), March 03, 1999.

What about us folks in the snow belt? I can't seem to get the snow to run down my rain gutters. Is there a trick to it?

-- Goofy (Huh?@work.sucks), March 03, 1999.

I read somewhere that bird droppings are very toxic. I'm not sure if its a chemical thiing or due to germs in them.

It said that even if you use a filter, its best to avoid water from a roof that birds perch on.

-- y2kbiker (y2kbiker@bellatlantic.net), March 03, 1999.

Goofy - sprinkle charcoal or other black powder on the snow to make it absorb sunlight and melt faster

-- y2kbiker (y2kbiker@bellatlantic.net), March 03, 1999.

First run through a rough filter, like a towel or milita coffee filters. Then through a fine filter like coarse or meduim lab filter paper. Then through something like the Katadyn, and THEN through activated charcoal. Always try to keep the activated charcoal sterile as its surface area makes a great breeding ground. You'll note that many emergency filters that have an activated carbon component have the charcoal doped with silver to prevent microbe growth.

Great plans fpr a do it yourself water filter can be found in Cresson Kearney's Nuclear War Survival Skills. Text can be downloaded at http://www.oism.org

-- Ken Seger (kenseger@earthlink.net), March 04, 1999.

Seth - I tried researching the issue of asphalt roofing last fall, on forums like Gary North's for which the threads are probably no longer available. Some cistern systems are set up to let the "first flush" bypass the holding tank. I have an old asphalt shingle roof that is ready to be replaced. I have rain barrels ready to place under the gutters (from Gardeners Supply in Vermont). I heard that asphalt can be on the toxic side, but I don't know whether a brand new roof (that may have an initial outpouring of nasties) is necessarily any better than an old roof which is breaking down and sluffing asphalt. Bird droppings aside (I don't see why boiling wouldn't take care of that problem), my plan is to replace my roof this spring, collect roof runoff in my rain barrels, but to use it for gardening or for nonpotable use except in an emergency. In other words, I currently assume that I do not have a safe, long-term water source for potable water. If you learn anything from any other sources, would you *please* post it here or send me an e-mail. Thanks.

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), March 04, 1999.

This is more for the newer people.

It has been mentioned before that water from the roof can be kept clean by first covering the roof with a roll of plastic film. A roll 10 * 25 feet is only a couple of dollars.

Another method is that this plastic doesn't even need to be on the roof. Whenever it rains it can be spread out in the air. Corners on one end tied to something higher than the barrel (posts, your home or garage, etc.) and the other end sloped downward to funnel into the barrel. This would eliminate objections like ashphalt chemicals and bird doo doo.

An easy method of distilling water...

Fill a large pot with water to be distilled. A smaller pot inside the first, held in place near the top by wire or possibly just floating in the water to be distilled. Keep it centered in some manner. Set a wok on top of the large pot, as a lid, and fill it with ice, snow or just water as cold as possible. Heat the water in the pot. The vapor/steam rises from the surface and condenses on the bottom of the wok. It will run to the center, the lowest point of the wok, and drip into the container below.

The container can be emptied by hand, by suction, or by allowing it to drain through a tube to the outside of the main heating pot.

This same principal can be modified in a thousand ways. Even small amounts of water may be obtained from stuff such as grass clippings and weeds. Any moisture bearing material can be put into a circular hole in the ground. A collection container is placed at the bottom and in the middle of this hole and a plastic film is spread across the hole. Put a rock in the middle of the plastic to produce a downward sloap. The moisture evaporating out of the earth, grass, etc. will condense on the plastic and drip back into the pot at the bottom. Distilling will remove all impurities; organic and inorganic.

You can use a towel or other cloth hanging over the edge of a container of water as a filter. Arrange it so that the outside end is lower than the water to be filtered. Wicking action will bring the water up the towel and over the edge. Syphon action will eventually start and keep the water flowing (dripping) into a lower container, leaving any solids behind in the towel. This is only for removing solids from what otherwise is know to be potable water.

Killing off germs in water only takes pasturizing. Complete boiling is not required but of course, it doesn't hurt. Pasturizing only takes 150 degrees for a minimum of six minutes. This can easily be obtained via solar means if nothing else. There is a web page which describes a "solar puddle" using a black plastic bottom and a clear plastic cover, to purify water. A garden hose can also be filled and left in the sun for a couple of hours to heat up. Be sure; use a thermometer and time it. This process does not remove inorganic impurities.

A couple of additional bits... Never eat snow or suck on an icicle unless it is summer. :-) The cold you ingest is worse, in a winter survival situation, than the moisture you gain. Melt and warm, any solid water, as much as possible first. Also green mold, etc. growing around the edges of a rain barrel is a *good* thing. That stuff helps purify the water as it does in a more natural setting.


-- Floyd Baker (fbaker@wzrd.com), March 04, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ