Coastal River

Coastal River, West Coast Vancouver Island. Photo: Jeremy Koreski

Harvesting rainwater with a rain catchment system or rain barrel is an excellent option if you want to conserve water here in the Clayoquot Sound. Catchment systems typically work by collecting rainwater runoff from roofs by channeling it through gutters down into cisterns or barrels, which can be located either above or below ground. Below is a diagram outlining a common system in use.

A catchment system can be incredibly simple, with water entering from a gutter downspout and then exiting via a garden hose when you turn the spigot at the bottom of the barrel. This water is useful for everything from watering plants and washing your car to cleaning your catch after a day of fishing. Larger cistern systems gather water in the same fashion, but use an electric pump and often a pressure tank to deliver water into the home for things like flushing toilets and sometimes even washing laundry. Most of these systems are easy to set up, can be relatively inexpensive to install, and require little maintenance over time. Homes and businesses using water catchment systems on the coast generally retain municipal water services as a backup source of water that can be switched over to in times when rain is scarce. It is important to note that water collected this way is considered unpotable, and buildings using it must have two separate plumbing systems: one for treated drinking water and another for catchment water to be used for toilets, laundry, garden water, and many other things.


Water Catchment Systems in Tofino

General Manager Mike Jacobsen giving an overview of the water catchment system in use at Tofino's Shelter Restaurant.

Tofino residents Conor MacKenzie and John Gilmour discussing a residential rainwater system they recently built.

Resident Bob Purdy talks about the water catchment system installed in his Chesterman's Beach home.


Qwii-qwiq-sap Standing Tree to Standing Home Project

Co-managed by Tla-o-qui-aht, Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, YuutuɁitɁaht and Toquaht First Nations, together with Ecotrust Canada and the Clayoquot Forest Communities Program, Qwii-qwiq-sap focuses on building the conservation economy by empowering communities to define and create their own circles of wealth. Through the thoughtful integration of forest management, community design, value-added production, alternative technology development, construction and training, the initiative demonstrates how we can achieve the ideal of getting direct local benefits from regional resource extraction and use and build homes that are both culturally and regionally appropriate. One of the most important aspects of the program is that it work to ensure that new homes are designed to reflect local First Nations cultural values.

Tla-o-qui-aht Councillor Terry Dorward-Seitcher talks about alternative ways to build homes and utilizing rain water catchment.

Click here for the Ecotrust Canada Standing Tree to Standing Home website.

If you're curious to learn more about all the options available for the catchment and use of rainwater, call the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino at 250.725.4450, or stop by to see a complete rain barrel setup at 619 Tibbs Place (just off Abraham Drive).

Click here for a local installers of water catchment systems.

To read more online, check out these rain catchment links.