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How-to: rainwater collection system on my RV trailer

I was inspired partly by a book lent to me by the first person I ever went out on a date with (almost a year ago already!) and partly by the container gardening class I was brought to on Valentine’s day by a more recent date.

Yet another person I dated recently is thinking of doing a similar project, and so I have some information and materials to offer her.

When I first jumped into this new experience of dating I wasn’t sure what to expect – but rainwater collection was surely no where in my mind as even the remotest possibility.

We actually don’t pay for water in the trailer park, (its included in the rent) and RVs use very little water anyway by their nature.

On the other hand, CA is in a drought (again), one never knows when the next earthquake (or revolution perhaps?) might cut off the municipal supply, and I have every intention of starting to (attempt to) grow food as my next project.

Since the trailer doesn’t really have gutters, I started by applying a thick bead of silicone around the perimeter of the roof, except above the slide and the awning, so that the water will flow to the low areas.  More silicone on one side of the slide, and the awning has always drained to one spot anyway.

I built the spouts primarily from layers of aluminum tape so I could shape it precisely the way I needed. 

The tape feeds into a funnel (mesh covered to keep out the crap), which goes into the pipe. 

On the slide side its basically just a long piece of straight pipe, cut around 2/3s down and rejoined with a flexible connector so that it can bend around my bedroom window. 

The awning side was more of a challenge as it has to go around a number of various corners and through narrow spaces to get to the storage barrel on the other side of the house.

Three lengths together made the perfect length.  Its supported with a bunch of random stuff: bungees, rope, metal bars, and blocks of wood, taken from my cabinets, shed and scrap pile.

After the first little rain it drooped in 2 spots, and I added and redistributed the support – I expect it to work, though I’ll find out for sure in a few hours.

At the end an extra large funnel collects water from both sides, and drains into a 55 gallon water barrel.

The barrel is used, but thoroughly cleaned and pressure tested, and was purchased locally by a company which specializes in second hand barrels, only about 5 miles from my house.  A 55 gallon with a removable top (for adding a spout, and cleaning if it becomes necessary some day) cost me all of $20 (even).

They didn’t have a spout kit – they said they could order one from the warehouse; but I figured I could get something from the hardware store.  The book had warned me I wouldn’t be able to, and I should have listened.  I ended up ordering one online.

Waiting for it to show up gave me an excuse to be lazy and not work on the system, and fortunately for most of that time it was dry anyway (I did miss the tail end of the last rains, which was rather tragic, but what can you do?).

I finished it yesterday, just in time for today’s rain, making this the first time in my life that it raining is actually making me happy.

Here is where my container garden will hypothetically someday go: That will be my next big project.