Decode the code: How to save water with rainwater harvesting

Help conserve water and lower the cost of your bills with a rainwater collection system in your backyard.


Have you tried a rain dance yet?

Photo courtesy of Canva

As we prep for rain next week, we can’t help but think about the warmer times from last summer. Did you know San Antonio received about four inches of rain throughout the summer? We’re here to decode the city’s guidelines about rainwater harvesting and help you capitalize on the scarce resource, not to mention save money on your next water bill.

Rainwater harvesting explained

Building a rainwater harvesting system is an easy way to provide non-potable water for your plants. The best part: After some small start-up costs, it’s free — and we love free.

The system collects water off non-permeable surfaces like your roof and funnels it into a storage chamber like a rain barrel or cistern to be used when rain isn’t in the forecast — i.e. next summer. A general rule of thumb: One inch of rain produces about a half gallon for every square foot of roof.

What’s wrong with using my sprinkler?

Nothing, as long as your sprinkler is functioning properly and you’re following local regulations. The Alamo City has year-round watering requirements that limits irrigation systems and sprinkler use to any day of the week before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

If you live within city limits, the water pumped through your sprinkler system is filtered drinking water + uninformed watering practices can put a strain on the water supply and drive up your bill.

Meanwhile, the Texas Tax Code allows property tax exemptions for conservation initiatives like rainwater harvesting systems, and Texas Property Code protects them in residential zones.

How do I get started?

The San Antonio Water System offers programming and hosts free classes to teach you how to capture the most water + money-saving options for its customers. Register now for the next event on Wednesday, Jan. 31.

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance also provides resources like tips for saving money and how to start a community rain garden.