Project data
Authors Kyle BasnettColin Bourgeois Implemented 2013 Yes No USD 205.77 Download Upload your project too!body.poncho-dark-mode .mw-parser-output .mw-ui-button{background:#303134;border-color:#3c4043;color:#bdc1c6}@media screen and (max-width:500px){.mw-parser-output .button .mw-ui-button{display:block;margin:.5em 0}}

A rainwater catchment system will be built on a house in Blue Lake of Humboldt Country in California. The rainwater will be carried from the gutters to storage tanks for use in flushing the indoor toilet and watering the garden. Kyle Basnett and Colin Bourgeois are working on this project as part of the Cal Poly Humboldt's Engineering 305 course in Appropriate Technology.

## Project Goals

1. Design and install a safe, easy to use and maintainable rain water catchment system.
2. Acquire water storage containers for 200 gallons of rainwater storage.
3. Connect the rainwater catchment system to the toilet tank for a gravity fed rainwater toilet.
4. Design and install devices that will ensure water damage does not occur.

## Criteria

The following criteria, constraints and weight of importance will help guide us through the designing and building process of this project. This list was compiled by Colin Bourgeois, Kyle Basnett and our client J Gnarly.

Criteria Constraints Weight
(1-10)
Function Collects and stores rainwater. 10
Safety Does not pose a safety risk to people or the house 9
Maintanence No More than 15 min/week cleaning and maintaining 8

## Discussion

• This section is for people to submit constructive advice on improving our system, or to ask questions and give any comments to the builders.

## Conclusions

Our project has come together quite nicely. We have ended with a working system and still plan on adding to and improving it in the near future. We have had a lot of fun designing and building this system and have not had to many set backs. A lot of our process was fairly simple because we did a lot of planning prior to construction. There were however a few hiccups when we were working. When we started building the base for the storage tanks it was a little difficult to get the 4x4 posts level and plumb in the ground. This is partly due to us trying to connect 3 pillars before sinking them into the ground, thinking that it would save us time. With the materials available to us it was a little difficult to do this quick and accurate so we had to slow down our process in order to end with quality work. Once we started doing the posts individually our efficiency climbed. Another problem that we ran into was when it came to the original float valve. We had pretty good head but with the current plumbing on the toilet we did not have enough psi to force the water through the system. It would flow through all of the piping, but fell short when it came to the last step. So we switched around some of the house plumbing and brought up the water pipe to give it less gravitational resistance. This also failed, and that is when we settled on switching the float to a system that requires less psi. The system now functions quite well in gathering water, and slowly but surely fills the toilet. This project fit perfectly into the rule of 3's taught in business classes. The project cost 3 times as much, and took 3 times as long as we originally thought. In the end though, we have a working system which will in fact pay itself back soon seeing as the labor was free.

## Future Improvements to the System

After a chance meeting with an experienced rainwater collection builder an inexpensive solution for increasing the psi of the system is going to be designed and hopefully implemented. The solution as it is preliminarily understood is that an empty drum or two will be placed on top of the existing drums and connected to the drums below and sealed air tight while all drums are empty of water. As the drums fill with water and decrease the amount of air space the trapped air will increase in pressure. As this design is currently understood questions arrise as to whether enough air pressure can be generated to increase water pressure substantially and secondly, will air pressure be contained while the rainwater inlet pipe does not having water flowing through it?

If enough water pressure can be generated a FluidMaster 400A model toilet fill valve will be installed so the toilet tank will fill faster and quieter.

In light of potentially being able to increase the pressure of the system by rearranging the drums and adding another drum we have decided not to install a support railing around the drums incase of earthquakes because it would be just be taken down in a matter of days and not worth the time and materials.

If the pressure increase system does not work a custom made float valve mechanism is going to be designed in the next couple months, before the rainy fall season, with the hope that it can be 3D printed and will decrease the toilet tank fill time by improving the flow rate into the toilet.

## Lessons Learned

It was super helpful to leave plumbing in place with out glue until the system was ready to be tested because modifications could be made with out having to cut and replace parts.

A minimum of 2.5 psi is required to operate the toilet using a commercial toilet fill valve. The Fluid Master 400A with a low pressure rubber disc available form the manufacturer is the lower pressure requirement this team found for a fill valve. 5' 10"' is the minimum head requirement for a 2.5 psi system.

When installing posts set them in the ground and one by one instead of connecting three and trying to install them at once.

## Contact details

Page data
Type Project first flush, rainwater catchment, water storage, concrete, plastic SDG03 Good health and well-being, SDG06 Clean water and sanitation, SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities, SDG12 Responsible consumption and production Colin Bourgeois, Kyle Basnett, Kathy Nativi 2013 CC-BY-SA-3.0 Cal Poly Humboldt, Engr305 Appropriate Technology Rainwater Innovation Project English (en) 753 Colin Bourgeois, Kyle Basnett, Kathy Nativi (2013). "Rainwater Catchment J Gnarly". Appropedia. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
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