Harnessing Rainwater – Water Butts and Storage

With growing concerns about water scarcity and environmental sustainability, every drop counts. Finding innovative ways to conserve and utilise water has become increasingly important. One such solution, gaining popularity amongst environmentally conscious individuals and communities, is the humble water butt.

Water butts are simple yet ingenious devices designed to capture and store rainwater runoff from rooftops. Essentially, they serve as reservoirs for collecting rainwater, which can then be used for various purposes such as gardening, landscaping, and even household chores.

At first glance, a water butt may seem like a mundane object, but its impact on water conservation and sustainability is profound. Let’s have a look into the benefits of these unassuming containers:

Environmental Benefits:

By collecting rainwater, water butts reduce the demand for treated municipal water for non-potable purposes. This helps to conserve precious drinking water resources.

Stormwater runoff can carry pollutants and contaminants into natural water bodies, contributing to water pollution. Water butts intercept and store rainwater, reducing the strain on municipal water supplies and minimise the risk of flooding and erosion in urban areas.

Harvesting rainwater encourages the replenishment of groundwater sources, reducing reliance on surface water extraction. Water butts help maintain stream flow, aquatic habitats, and overall biodiversity.

Practical Applications:

Rainwater is naturally soft and free from chemicals, making it ideal for watering plants and gardens. Using water from butts reduces the need for tap water, which often contains chlorine and other additives harmful to plants.

Rainwater collected in water butts can also be used for washing cars, windows and outdoor surfaces. Its purity makes it suitable for cleaning tasks without leaving behind mineral deposits or streaks.

Some households utilise rainwater from butts for flushing toilets and washing clothes. While not suitable for drinking, rainwater can be safely substituted for freshwater in these non-potable applications.

The use of harvested rainwater can lead to significant cost savings on water bills, especially in regions where water prices are high or during periods of drought when water restrictions may be in place.

Practical Considerations:

Setting up a water butt is relatively straightforward, requiring a stable base, downpipe diverter, and occasional cleaning to prevent debris buildup. Periodically check the water butt for debris, algae growth, and signs of damage. Clean the container and guttering as needed to ensure optimal performance and prolong the lifespan of the system.

Water butt sizes vary to accommodate different storage needs and space constraints. Consider factors such as roof area, rainfall patterns, and intended usage when selecting an appropriate capacity for your household or garden.

In colder climates, it’s essential to winterise water butts to prevent freezing and potential damage. Emptying, disconnecting, or insulating the system can safeguard against ice formation and preserve its integrity during the colder months.


Water butts represent a simple yet effective solution for individuals and communities looking to conserve water, reduce their environmental footprint, and promote sustainable living practices. By harnessing the power of rainwater, we can all play a part in preserving this precious resource for future generations. So, why not invest in a water butt today and make a positive impact on both your wallet and the planet?

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