Rainwater Harvesting Systems
Rain barrels and cisterns are vessels used to capture and temporarily store rainwater for future use. A rain barrel can be connected to a downspout from a roof; rain that is caught can later be used for watering the yard and garden. A traditional residential rain barrel consists of a barrel with a sealed, leaf/mosquito screen on the lid; a connection to a downspout; drain-hose or angled runoff pipe for overflows; and a spigot, usually connected to a garden hose. Often the barrel is raised on cement blocks or put on a gravel foundation.
Washington County’s Community Development Code and Building Code do not expressly allow or prohibit the use of rain cisterns in new or existing development. Standards for building setbacks limit structures such as cisterns. The lack of definition and current setback standards present barriers to incorporating rain cisterns.
- Encouraging rain water cisterns contributes to water conservation and stormwater management strategies.
- A number of Case Studies include rain water harvesting systems. Corvallis Co-Housing is a good example.
- Portland allows rainwater harvesting systems in rear and side yard setbacks.
- Clackamas County identifies rainwater harvesting systems as one of a menu of alternative methods to achieve low-impact development.