DIY Water Collection made Simple

Written by: Julie

Learning about preparedness helped me understand why water is extremely important especially during emergencies.  Read Christa’s post about her water storage  if you haven’t already to learn more about it.  We have a similar system in place for our bottled water storage.  Living in the Pacific North West, we get a lot of rain during the winter BUT not so much during the summer.  We also have a small garden and I always loved the thought of watering my home grown veggies with rain water we collected.  Since we have a garden, we will be using more water for that.  We decided we should take advantage of these rainy winters by collecting some water for our gardens in the summer.  Before setting up a water collection system we made sure to check with our local water collection laws.  It is actually illegal to collect rain water in some places….. (crazy right?)

Our first “water collection system” was placing a garbage can under an overflowing, clogged gutter.  We tied a screen over the can to keep large debris out.  My husband eventually had to unclogged the gutter because it got a little swampy up there.  We then found the CATCH-A-raindrop gutter piece and added on from there.  CATCH-A-raindrop reroutes some water from the gutters downspout.  Attach a garden hose and VIOLA!!!


I think this is a great system because it can be temporary.  It works perfect for us because we rent our home and have to move often so we don’t want to alter the gutters too  much.  It is also a great set up for an emergency situation; it is very easy to install, take apart and no/minimal cutting of the gutter.  

This is our finished product

If you plan to use this system for emergency situations only, I recommend setting it up before a disaster strikes.  You may need to run to the hardware store for extra parts to have a well working system.  You could install the CATCH-A-raindrop and keep its cover on so the water will not come through the hole for the hose.  When disaster strikes, all you have to do is attach the hose. 

For a simple version used in an emergency situation you would only really need……

SUPPLIES: (minimum)

1: CATCH-A-raindrop piece 

1: garden hose of any length 

Bucket to catch the water


SUPPLIES: (we used)

1: CATCH-A-Raindrop  


2: food grade barrels, 55 gallons each. We got ours at Wilco

1: 25’ garden hose (which is too long but it is what we had on hand and it works) for connection of CATCH-A-raindrop to the top of the barrel.  

Top of barrel connection point

**Your hoses may need to be different lengths than ours.   Set up your barrels and then measure the distances for your hoses.  Also pay attention to the male and female parts of your hoses, to connect ours we needed a female part on both ends. 

2 female ends

2: 6’ garden hoses, for connection to each other and overflow


4: Bulkhead Fittings:  1 for the top of the barrel.  1 for the bottom of EACH barrel, 1 for the overflow valve.  These are NOT NECESSARY but they make the connection for the hose bibbs (also called spigot or shut off valve) more sturdy and water tight.  You may notice in the picture our red barrel came with a hose bibb so we didn’t add a bulkhead fitting.

4: 1/4 turn MPT x MHT Hose Bibb; one on each bulkhead fitting to control water levels and isolation . *I like the 1/4 turn option because it is easy to see if the valve is on or off.   **Make sure all your sizes are the same, matching your bulkhead fittings.**

Thread Seal Plumbing tape  to keep things water tight

14: Concrete pavers to make a flat area for the barrels to sit on.

Maximum water storage for these 2 barrels is 110 gallons.  I’m not great at math but I calculated that to be about 27.5 days for 4 people at 1 gallon per person or for plant watering.  Of course if we were to drink this water we would boil it (if possible), add proper amounts of bleach (8 drops per gallon), filter it in our Berkey water filters and/or use purification tablets.  

Incase you are wondering why we installed the CATCH-A-raindrop piece so high on the down spout…. We wanted to be able to add more containers on the deck for easier access to water.  We have our original trash can set up to be added into the system with a hose bibb on it.


  1. Take apart gutter where you want to place CATCH-A-raindrop (it doesn’t have to be super high, just higher than the top of your containers)
  2. Add CATCH-A-raindrop
  3. Put gutter back together
  4. Screw hose to the CATCH-A-raindrop                                                                          ***YOU ARE DONE HERE IF YOU ARE MAKING A SUPER TEMPORARY SYSTEM*** (except you need to find something to put the water in)
  5. Clean the barrels (we used dish soap) 
  6. Figure placement to cut 4 holes, for the bulkhead fittings.  1 hole on EACH barrel for connection/draining spouts about 6” from the bottom.  1 hole for the overflow a couple inches below the top of the barrel.  (We found that if you go as high as possible it can sometimes inhibit good drainage because of the angle of the bibb.)    1 hole on the lid for water to enter.  Make the hole just big enough to fit your bulkhead fitting through.
  7. Measure hole size, draw on barrel and cut.  We used a cordless drill with a bitt to poke holes on the drawn lines.  You can use one of those fancy circle bitt things but we didn’t have one.  Then we finished it off with a utility knife. 
  8. Unscrew bulkhead fittings, add some “thread seal tape”
  9. Place bulkhead fittings in the holes, screwing back together tightly
  10. Screw on hose bibbs to bulkhead fittings with more “thread seal tape” 
  11. Barrel placement: we made a flat area with some concrete pavers.  Notice the barrel receiving the water from the CATCH-A-raindrop is slightly higher than the other one.  This helps the water flow to the other barrel. 
  12. Add hoses.  Connect the hose from the CATCH-A-raindrop to the top of the barrel. Connect the hose to the bottom of both barrels so they are connected together. Connect hose to the overflow and place it where you want the overflow water to go.  The best place for the overflow water to go would be back into the gutter system.

13. Wait for it to rain or test it using your garden hose water.   

So there you go, a simple water collection system. 


Good Luck and please let me know if you have any questions.  Thank you. 

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