When most people think of off-grid living, they probably assume a well is an absolute necessity. Yet, while drilling a well is one of the most convenient options in areas lacking municipal water service, it is also expensive. Nor is it always feasible depending on your property’s location, water rights and the depth of ground-water. If a well is out of your budget, infeasible or not worth it, know there are other options.
The most basic option is to haul your water from the closest public water station. With enough portable water jugs and a trailer or large vehicle, you can probably get away with hauling water once a week. Of course this option comes with a number of challenges if you are planning to live full-time on your property, but it could be a good, inexpensive choice for a cabin or camp site. This couple outlines their method for self-hauling water to their RV:
You can also rig a trailer with a larger water tank as shown in the below video:
2. Water Haul Services
If you plan to live full time on your property, having a water haul service fill up your cistern for you is a more convenient option. You will need to install a cistern or water storage tank and some method of distributing the water to your home.
You will just need to verify that a hauling service can reach you.
3. Rainwater Harvesting
Another option is to capture rainwater for use on site – this can be either a secondary system or, in some cases, your primary system. Rainwater harvesting can also be used to supplement municipal water for those interested in conserving resources.
Before considering rainwater harvesting, you should first complete some basic due diligence.
- Check out any regulations governing rainwater collection systems in your state here.
- Determine how much water you can reasonably collect. First take a look at the monthly rainfall in your area. Then use the following formula to estimate how many gallons you can collect per month:
Catchment Area (roof size)(square feet) x Monthly Rainfall (inches) x Conversion Factor x Collection Factor
1.Catchment area (roof size) is the size of the roof where rainfall will be collected.
2. Monthly rainfall is the number of inches of rainfall for the month.
3. Collection factor is a factor applied to the total monthly harvesting potential to account for losses in the system. The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting recommends using between 75% and 90% depending on how efficient the rainwater harvesting system is at collecting rainfall.
4. Conversion factor is a factor of 0.62 used to convert inches of rain that fall onto the roof area to total monthly gallons of harvesting potential.
If rainwater harvesting makes sense for you after completing your basic due diligence, check out Texas’ excellent guide on rainwater harvesting systems to plan out yours.
A basic rainwater harvesting system captures rainwater, usually from the roof, and feeds it to a cistern or storage tank. It filters the water (depending on what you want to use the water for) and pumps the water back to your house. There are many options for the various components of the rainwater system, a good, easy-to-digest summary on rainwater harvesting systems is available from MorningChores, but the Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting is where you’ll really want to look.