Saving and using rainwater: cisterns, barrels

An ancient method of dealing with drought — saving and re-using rainwater from roofs — can also help reduce peak flows from storms.

ABove left, two of the 500-gallon pillow tanks shown here were installed under a San Leandro deck. Water is used for toilets and laundry during the rainy season. When tanks are empty, homeowners flip a switch to use city water. It is difficult to get permits to use rainwater in indoor plumbing. This is probably the first such permitted system in the East Bay.

Above right, at a Lafayette home, a 10,000 underground water tank, buried underground, stores rainwater for irrigation.

Both systems were installed by WaterSprout.

Below, at a Berkeley home, 50-gallon used olive barrels, connected by hoses and with protection against mosquitos, catch water from downspouts for irrigation. Rain-barrel systems are fairly simple to install, but capacity is small and costs are relatively high.