Stand Alone Rainwater Harvesting System
by RainSaucers Inc. on February 2nd, 2016

We've been working on the global clean drinking water problem for 5 years now. In 2011 we launched our flagship product and immediately went down to Guatemala to see if our 48" RainSaucer could be the ultimate solution (see video). It was well received but the general consensus was the price needed to be lower for folks at the Bottom of the Pyramid. We also came to understand that without a cheap form of water storage, our efforts would be wasted because the total system cost would still be too high. So in 2014 we took another look at the problem and thought we might be able to do something at the $2 cost level. We had some initial prototype success with our cardboard "Two Dollar Tank" but in the end we just couldn't make it last more than one season. Yet we are not the kind of people to give up. And now we have a new concept: the $6 Cistern.

The Six Dollar Cistern is a 150 gallon tank that both catches and stores rain water. The Cistern has two components: a ruggedized phthalate free 5' wide vinyl pool that costs $3 and a food-safe HDPE cover that can be made for $3. The pool cover has a filtered inlet for preventing debris from entering the tank and an outlet for pumping or scooping of water. The Cistern can be deployed either as a stand alone rain collector or as general purpose water storage. The main target is families at the Bottom of the Pyramid. The $6 cost means a final retail price of $10- putting it well in the reach of families earning $1-$2 per day. In countries where such families buy bottled water, the investment would pay for itself in less than one rainy season. In other places, the investment would pay for itself in terms of the productivity  gained from improved health and reduced time searching for water.

As a stand alone rain collector the Cistern will catch 12 gallons per inch of rain. So for example, in Guatemala where it averages 30 inches of rain per year the Cistern will catch 360 gallons, enough drinking water for a family of four for most of the year. Since the pool is inflatable and the cover can folded, it can ship in a box as small as 1/2 cubic foot enabling easy packing, shipping, and distribution worldwide.  The first prototype was tested in the Summer of 2015 and was fully functional.

We believe that ultra-low cost, portable water storage would not only spark a boom in rainwater harvesting worldwide but that it would also have applications for disaster relief. In the event of an earthquake or tsunami, inflatable rainwater harvesting tanks could be deployed by NGOs on the ground to store initial supplies of water that would replenish themselves with rain. Future iterations of the Six Dollar Cistern could also be targeted at small plot farmers as a water storage source for drip irrigation.

Please see the supplied photos. We welcome your feedback through our Contact page.

by RainSaucers Inc. on January 5th, 2016

We've got great customers that appreciate us enough to send pictures and comments for the Communities' benefit. At the beginning of the Year we post the most interesting ones from the previous Year not just for the Community but for us, as a review of our progress. Looking at these pictures you can see 2015 was good to us:
  • our new 84" version finally started to gain traction.
  • a few of our systems started operating in Africa.
  • use of the product was widespread from Maine down to Florida back up Canada across North America to Texas and California.

Customer in Texas uses a RainSaucer to provide much needed water to wildlife in his pasture. The system collects water and dispenses it automatically.

Customer in Florida writes "I love the Rain Saucer. It's a great product for my garden! My terrace is on the 5th floor and faces the ocean. I get get really strong winds when it rains, so I made an adjustment by tilting the front of the saucer so it will not blow over. Works great! See my attached photo. I am buying a back up! "

Customer in Maine using our system to water cacti automatically with drip lines. He calls the RainSaucer "one of those incredibly effective devices that is so simple it makes me wonder why someone didn't think of it a thousand years ago!"

Rooftop rainwater collection for a Community Garden sponsored by City of Madison Water Utility

Students in PA got an IBC Tote from the local water utility and installed a 48" RainSaucer to demonstrate water sustainability.

Finally made it to Africa, to Rwanda, thanks to NGO Manos de Madres These women run a market garden cooperative that has had difficulties purchasing water. The RainSaucers are expected to decrease that dependency.
Patio at Dunkin' Donuts in Tampa, FL. RainSaucer catches the water which is automatically dripped to hanging veggies through use of solar pump. Food is donated to local shelters. Install by veteran owned The Urban Farming Company

Customer in Arkansas first to put an 84" RainSaucer on a 270 gallon IBC Tote. This setup is uphill from the home. She plans on feeding it to a small water tower near the garden for easy irrigation.
84" installation at Community Garden in Toronto. The main barrel overflows to the other two making 150 gallons in each cluster. There are 5 such clusters at their Garden.
This customer in Alabama installed a 48" RainSaucer into an EarthMinded Rainstation. She writes "I plan to use the water for my plants and if necessary during a crisis we can drink the water. I will also use the water for my animals drinking water so they can have chlorine free water...I didn't want to collect water from a rain gutter system off the roof. That water is not safe to drink so I don't want my vegetables using that water either. I don't have gutters so I didn't want the added expense or trouble of installing and cleaning them. I also like that I can put the rain barrel close to the location I will be using it. One is by the greenhouse. The other will be out by my garden. I hope to save money by collecting rain water. Thank you for the rainsaucer what a clever, common sense invention."

This Silicon Valley engineer was looking for a fast, DIY way to collect rainwater in a clean way. He told us he chose the BPA-free RainSaucer because of its simplicity and food safe surface.
The harvested rainwater will be used for growing fruits and vegetables in the garden.

by RainSaucers Inc. on December 7th, 2015

Only a Walking Dead fan with a keen interest in Water technology would find this interesting. But to us, the way the survivors stay hydrated is the most educational part of the show. During the first few Seasons, when Rick Grimes and his group were either "on the run" or staying in temporary situations, the group was somewhat lucky. They were able to camp near streams or lakes, stay in houses where there was a well, or get liquids from abandoned cars, houses, and markets. But once they decided to settle down at that Prison in Season 3, things got decidedly more complicated. The Prison had no well.  With no local source of water, the team had to resort to the best alternative: rainwater harvesting. Since Season 3, we have seen rain barrels pop up two more times making it now worth commenting on. For the record (and let us know if we've missed something), here are the rainwater harvesting case studies from the Walking Dead:

Season 4 as the group settles in to the Prison

The group constructs a shelter in the courtyard of the Prison using corrugated metal sheets and wood beams. The shelter is used as shade from the Sun and as a place where they can cook and have outdoor meals. But the shelter is also lined with gutters that feed several strategically placed 55 gallon drums. As seen in the photo above, they elevate the drums by placing them on drums that have been cut in half. The harvested rainwater is dispensed into 5 gallon buckets and used for drinking, vegetable garden irrigation, and laundry.

Our comment: we see this set up all over the developing world. The corrugated metal sheets look pretty rusty but the water is probably still OK. However, three or four barrels won't be enough for the needs of the group later on when it grows in size.

Season 5 by the rival group at Grady Memorial Hospital

Isolated to the top floors of a Hospital Building, a group of police officers survive by growing food on the roof. They harvest rainwater from one section of the roof thanks to gutters that feed two IBC Totes that are mounted on cinder blocks.

Our comment: The IBC Totes are white, meaning that toxic algae will eventually develop unless they paint or cover the tanks. If the roof is asphalt, as is the case with most commercial buildings, the water will contain dangerous chemicals. This water is clearly non-potable although the 540 gallons is probably enough for the group's size.

Season 5 at the community of Alexandria

At her first interview with Rick Grimes, the Alexandria leader Deanna Monroe explains how the community was designed for sustainability. In addition to solar panels, "each home has a cistern", she says. Those cisterns turn out to be the 60 gallon Fiskars Salsa Rain Barrel systems you see at Home Depot. Such systems come with a diverter which has also been installed at the homes in Alexandria.

Our comment: when Deanna said "cisterns" we though she meant underground 5,000 gallon tanks plumbed back into the home for water use throughout the home. But she meant rain barrels which does not equate to that much water.  As discussed above, if the roofs are asphalt, the harvested water will have harmful chemicals. This "cistern" water is nothing we would want to drink "as-is".
In conclusion it would appear that none of these cases are perfect. But we give kudos to the producers for trying to bring a dose of realism to the show. Rainwater Harvesting is one of the best Survival techniques when other sources of water are difficult to obtain- as often happens when you are under siege by the Zombie horde.

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.

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