The Permaculture Podcast

    1904 – Rob Avis on the Essentials of Rainwater Harvesting

    Verge Permaculture 2016
    Gavin Young Photography

    In this episode of The Permaculture Podcast, Rob Avis, of Verge Permaculture, joins me to talk about rainwater harvesting.


    Click here to download the episode. | Open Player in New Window

    This conversation is based on his new book from New Society Publishers, Essential Rainwater Harvesting. Rob wrote this book along with his wife and Verge Permaculture Partner, Michelle. Though they began their professional careers as engineers designing solutions in the oil fields, they now live on a productive permaculture homestead in Alberta, Canada, and use that experience to create and share all the formulas, calculations, and components needed to create a productive system for capturing clean, healthy water.

    You can find more about Rob’s work at, and his book, Essential Rainwater Harvesting at You’ll, of course, find links to those and other resources, including his Rainwater Harvesting Toolkit, in the Resources section below.

    To go with this conversation, In cooperation with New Society Publishers, I’m giving away a copy of Essential Rainwater Harvesting. That drawing runs from February 8th through at least the 18th. To enter, all you need to do is follow the link below and leave a comment in the post. I’ll then randomly select the recipient once this giveaway closes.

    Book Giveaway: Essential Rainwater Harvesting

    In the book, Rob and Michelle break down what we need in order to install a rainwater harvesting system, and they back that up with their professional experience and the sources, that lead them to their conclusions. They also hold the additional need to understand the liability and risks of such a system as engineers who put their stamp on a design. I mention this latter part as one of my earliest lessons in rainwater capture was just how heavy a rain barrel, even a 50 gallon one, can get—over 400lbs/180kils—and what we need to consider when placing them, such as a solid foundation, so they can be productive and not create any hazards for the user or surrounding neighbors.

    One of the mystifying parts of rainwater harvesting for me, in the beginning, was calculating just how much water would fall on a given area and the necessary size for a storage container to hold it all. Once you start doing those calculations you quickly find that a lot of water, whether you count the volume in liters or gallons, comes off of a roof or parking lot with just a centimeter or half-inch of rain. Accounting for that, how your surfaces or gutters divide and divert those flows, and where they’ll go can help to understand how to use this resource around your home or in your landscape.

    And with Essential Rainwater Harvesting, you’ll find all the details for that and so much more.

    Which is a long way to say, I like this book and like the others in the Essential series from New Society Publishers, think you will too.

    What did you think of this conversation with Rob? Do you have questions for him? Would you like to hear more about this work or his other projects at Verge Permaculture?

    Get in touch:

    And for those of you who still like to put a stamp on an envelope, I love finding your mail in my mailbox.

    The Permaculture Podcast
    PO Box 16
    Dauphin, PA 17018

    From here the next conversation is with Kirsten Lei-Nielsen to talk about whether or not you should become a homesteader.

    Until then, spend each day making smart use of your resources while taking care of Earth, your self, and each other.

    Verge Permaculture – Rob and Michelle Avis
    Essential Rainwater Harvesting
    Rainwater Harvesting Toolkit

    Peter Coombes – Urban Water Cycle Solutions
    Dr. Anthony Spinks PhD Thesis on Biofilms and Sludges

    American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA)
    North American Rainwater Harvesting Code

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