Stand Alone Rainwater Harvesting System
by RainSaucers Inc. on November 4th, 2015

It's one of the great virtues of doing business online- the ability to engage with customers around the world and see your product extend its global reach. The hard part, for us, is that not every country is in our serviceable range.  Our carrier USPS (the only one that takes our odd shaped parcels) has different size limits depending on the protocols agreed to with each country.  Even more frustrating is when those protocols appear arbitrary. For example, New Zealand accepts our packages but neighboring Australia does not. So for the record (we will keep this updated as USPS agreements change) here are the countries to where we can ship:
  • Any US territory including Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin islands.
  • Canada
  • Most countries in Europe
  • Most countries in Asia
  • New Zealand
Unfortunately USPS seems to have issues for us with Mexico, Central America, and much of the Southern hemisphere including Africa and South America. But we are working on products right now that will get around this restriction. So if you are a potential customer in one of those locations, please be patient, we'll have something for you eventually. If your need is more urgent, we have found the best solution is to have an American or European friend buy one and bring it with them when they visit your country (the airlines usually accept our packages as luggage size).

by RainSaucers Inc. on October 5th, 2015

Ben Franklin once said “When the well runs dry, we know the worth of water.” In California, we see this wisdom unfolding each day the Drought worsens as residents take action. Lawns are brown. Sprinklers are being replaced with drip irrigation. New home appliances and toilets have been upgraded to more water efficient models. All with good results so far- water use in California was down 29% in May, 27% in June, and 31% in July. Californian water utilities and their residents seem determined to meet the State Water Resources Control Board mandate for a cut of 36%.

On the water supply side, we have further reason to be optimistic. This is our El Niño year meaning heavy rain is expected across the State. During the El Niño winter of 1997-98, 47 inches of rain fell in San Francisco, more than double the average. An above average rainfall this year would replenish reservoirs, restore our lawns, and reduce our collective angst.

Unfortunately, El Niño is unlikely to end our problems with Drought. The rainfall deficits of the past few years are simply too large to overcome in one season. The rainfall deficit has equated to massive pumping of water from California’s aquifers which cannot soon be replenished. According to the U.S. Geological Survey it would take at least 50 years for the Central Valley’s aquifers to naturally refill. But that’s only if we stopped pumping groundwater immediately. Let’s face it - once the well is dry, new solutions are required.

The free recycled water programs we now see popping up across the State are one step in the right direction. We see an increasing number of residents driving around in trucks with 270 gallon tanks in the back filled with grey water, perfect for landscaping. But recycled water has its limitations- mainly that it’s not convenient to keep driving back and forth with such a heavy load. A truck or trailer is also a must.

Fortunately, another solution is on its way. When the rains come we just need to be prepared to catch it. Rainwater harvesting, as it is called, is an ancient technology implemented with little effort and cost but with fantastic results. A typical 1,000 square foot roof in the Los Angeles area for example would have generated as much as 5,000 gallons of water this past year, even under drought conditions (it still rained 8.5 inches).  Even better, the rain did not come just in the Winter months, as it rained all the way into June. Some residents who collected rainwater this past year were actually able to water their garden from April through August- with just stored rainwater.

For residents who already have large water storage capability from their use of recycled water- it’s a simple next step. Accessories on the market make it easy to hook a tank up to a downspout or even let it collect rain standing alone. For those without drums or containers, call your local water Utility and see if they offer rain barrels for sale (at a discount) or other rebates. In addition, the guidance and resources of the non-profit ARCSA (American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association) would be helpful to any rainwater harvesting implementation.

-from the team at RainSaucers Inc.-

by RainSaucers Inc. on September 15th, 2015

As most veterans of the Rainwater Harvesting industry will tell you, it's not easy spreading the word. We have a lobby organization called ARCSA that does what they can but in the end, it comes down to general awareness and education. Even in California, where the Drought is in the news almost daily, there is sparse mention of rain barrels. The focus here is on water conservation and recycling water rather catching rain.  In other States, awareness of rainwater harvesting is better but still somewhat limited to early adopters.

In this age of the Internet and memes and hashtags we think its important to make things into a Cause. So that's why we had these T-shirts made. Our hope is that both our customers and non-customers will spread the word that we should all "Catch Rain". The t-shirts are now available in our Store for $19.95 with FREE shipping.

To that end, we are also creating the hashtag #catchrain where anyone interested in our Cause can post related content. Buyers of the t-shirt are welcome to post their selfies there in addition to any rain catching related content or news.

by RainSaucers Inc. on August 4th, 2015

For the fifth year in a row now we've been growing vegetables with nothing but stored rainwater. The goal is to demonstrate that even in areas of persistent drought (like California), plants can be made "drought-resistant" with just a little planning and preparation. From our first detailed experiment in 2011 to our current batch of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers (see photo) we've had no trouble proving the point. From backyard gardeners to small plot farmers, an appropriately sized RainSaucers system can completely cover one's watering needs*, even if there is no significant rainfall from planting to harvest.

*Note: we always hand water or drip irrigate and use mulch to prevent evaporation.

by RainSaucers Inc. on July 6th, 2015

Our products are currently categorized by their diameters- 48", 59" and 84". This give users a sense of how much space a system will take up in a yard or garden. However, this does not mean the overall footprint of a RainSaucers' system cannot be changed. The key is elevation and there are two possibilities which are particularly useful in small space situations. The first is elevation of the RainSaucer itself. This can only done with the 48" RainSaucer but the approach is simple. Instead of plugging the 48" unit directly into the 2" hole on the barrel, you make an extender (out of a 2" male adapter, 3' of 2" pipe, and a 2" female adapter) and install the RainSaucer into the extender. This reduces the footprint to just the barrel itself (see photo below). The second approach is to elevate the entire system on an extra tall rain barrel stand. This could be as basic as a stack of cinder blocks or as complicated as a custom-made wooden platform. Either way, the footprint will be the area of the stand only, not the RainSaucer (any size) on top.

by RainSaucers Inc. on June 3rd, 2015

It's easy to lose focus when you run a busy startup.  Sometimes you need to be reminded about why you started in the first place. This mental refresh can come from anywhere and when you least expect it. But when it happens, you want to express gratitude to those involved and do what you can to help them. So for this post, we would like to publicly thank author Betsy Teutsch not just for including us in her new book 100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women (100 under $100) but for reminding us of our mission to solve the world's clean water crisis. We recently met Betsy at one of her book  events  in Northern California sponsored by Dining for Women, where she kindly allowed us to present our product.

Betsy's knowledge of the water-related challenges poor families face is impressive and this is well reflected in the book.  More important to us, is her support of rainwater harvesting as a solution for both clean water and small scale farming. Her book mentions almost of the work we have done in developing countries including our Guatemala trial and our 2 Dollar Tank project. Yet the best part of 100 under $100 is the way it puts together all the technologies and products currently available to empower women to innovate their way out of poverty. In our view, the book is the perfect NGO companion because of the way it indexes with pictures and reference information all the tools one might need to achieve an objective. Even experienced social entrepreneurs will find it useful for the way it presents alternatives. We plan on relying heavily on the book as we plan our next product for the developing market.

by RainSaucers Inc. on May 4th, 2015

Here at RainSaucers, we've become adept at calculating rainwater catchment potential for our customers. But even for us, it takes time looking up rainfall rates and calculating total catchment area- especially when more than one of our products is in use. There are a few rainwater collection estimators online but none of them incorporate location.  So we developed our own Excel tool that does the job. It worked so well we decided to put it online (see below). We also decided to make a portion of it non-RainSaucers specific, so that as long as your know your catchment area, you can use it.

Water Storage Recommendations

If a standard 55-gallon rain barrel would be filled more than 1 time and you live in the Western United States you will want to add more water storage. In other places in the US, the above can be as high as 3 before you would consider adding more water storage in order to capture the overflow.

by RainSaucers Inc. on April 1st, 2015

 We knew that Texas was friendly to rainwater harvesting. We knew the love extended to Taxes (there is no Sales Tax on rainwater harvesting equipment). But we had no idea our systems could also potentially save Texas landowners money on their property taxes.

The "wildlife exemption" as it is commonly called in Texas, allows a qualifying Texas landowner to have their property valued at the low agricultural tax rate without traditional farming or ranching activities taking place on the property. The exemption is mainly targeted at owners of agricultural land that no longer use the land for such purposes. Landowners with a wildlife exemption pay the same property taxes they paid when their property had only an agricultural tax exemption.

To obtain the wildlife exemption, the landowner must prove that they have developed a habitat conducive to wildlife.  One of the key aspects of that habitat is supplemental water supplies. In other words, the State wants to make sure the landowner is providing enough water to the widlife that make the property their home. This is in addition to any natural sources. If the landowner is lucky, they already have a well and a water distribution mechanism in place. But if that well is dry due to drought or the landowner doesn't have the thousands of dollars neceessary to drill one, the only option may be a widlife centric rainwater harvesting system, also known as a rainwater guzzler.

Traditional Guzzlers aren't cheap (usually over $1000) or easy to make (days to construct). But there is no reason why one of our systems can't serve the same functions at a fraction of the cost and time. As shown in the picture from a customer in Texas, all you need is a RainSaucer, a rain barrel, and some form of drip emitter that feeds into a pan. The entire setup can be done in minutes.  We have several Texas customers now using our system for birds and small game.

by RainSaucers Inc. on March 4th, 2015

The are several reasons why we don't sell 55 gallon drums with our product. They are:
  • too expensive to ship
  • easily available locally via Craigslist
  • inexpensive and sometimes even FREE.
This last point is the most important. Each year the list of cities in the United States offering FREE (or highly subsidized) rain barrels keeps growing. But what's lacking is an organized list that keeps track of these programs. So we figured we might as well be the ones to do this since our customers can benefit greatly.

Below is just a starting point. We are counting on our community to keep the list growing by sending us news on any programs (please use the comments section below, we will not post your email address or comments, just use the info to add to the list ).

Tucson, AZ
Los Angeles, CA
Oakland, CA
San Francisco, CA
Santa Monica, CA
Tampa, FL
Chicago, IL
Elkheart County, IN
Wichita, KS
Baltimore, MD
Flemington, NJ
Somerville, Bridgewater, and Raritan, NJ
Albuquerque, NM
Syracuse, NY
Cleveland, OH
Philadelphia, PA
College Station, TX
San Marco, TX
La Crosse, WI

by RainSaucers Inc. on February 3rd, 2015

I have to admit it. The idea seems like magic. You take one of these handy Desolenators, add salt or brackish water and voila! Clean drinking water. Congratulations to the team who made the product on their successful Indiegogo campaign. But I have to point out (as an advocate of rainwater harvesting) that while desalination has its place in the pantheon of man-made clean water technologies, it doesn't hold a candle to the power of Rain.

Here's why I still think Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) is the key to solving the world's clean water crisis and not desalination:
  1. Cost: desalination is expensive. There is just no way around it. The Desolenator is coming out of the gate at $450 and while I wish them the best, it's a long road to the amount the BoP (bottom of the pyramid) can afford (they live on just a few $ per day). This is one of Paul Polak's major tenets- low cost at all cost. At RainSaucers, we have been experimenting with a $2 tank and rain collector that can be made locally.
  2. Logistics: with desalination, you still need a water supply. That means hauling water from the ocean or nearby water source. What good is clean drinking water when you still have to face the problems of assault (women fetching water) and missing school (children). Mother Nature provides rainwater right at your doorstep.
  3. Scale: both technologies can be scaled. Desalination plants already exist. But why aren't there more of them? Because it's much faster, simpler, and cheaper to build another reservoir (large scale RWH). But at the household level, it means much less water for desalination-the desolenator only does 15 liters per day. RWH off a clean sheeted roof can generate tens of thousands of liters of water throughout the rainy season.
To their credit, the Desolenator folks have added RWH capability to their system. So if it's raining, the user may not have to haul water after all. I also like the idea that it is a multipurpose device. Perhaps we should take a lesson from them and add some form of desalination technology to the RainSaucer. Food for thought.

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