Water Assurance: An Inexpensive Device


Here is another article from a friend on a plan to backup your water.


Water is a concern for us as a family. In the area where we live, we do not often face droughts but they do occur. During one of the dry spells, some of the shallower wells in the area began to run dry and that can really get you thinking. What would happen if. . .

No doubt people living in areas served by public water could have similar concerns but for other reasons.  We need look back only as far as last summer when a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie led officials in Ohio and Michigan to ban tap water for over half a million people. Suddenly, drinking, cooking and bathing were out. Those who ignored the prohibition, according to reporter Kate Abbey-Lambertz who covered the event, faced abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, liver inflammation and hemorrhage, pneumonia, dermatitis and potential promotion of tumor growth.  Although the situation was handled by the public reasonably well, panic buying and other tensions did develop. As it is with so many things in our country, the veneer of civilization that overlays our day-to-day lives is thin indeed.

An earthquake could easily lead to water main breaks. An assault on the electric grid could shut down public water systems. Terrorists could poison a reservoir — the list goes on and on. Then what would happen?

Backing Up Your Water Supply

There are a lot of ways to back up your primary water supply system. When we lived in rural Virginia for short term assignment, the home we stayed in had a cistern. Every couple of weeks, a truck

the algae bloom

would come and fill the underground tank with water. With two young children, we were always shocked by how fast the water got used up. When we got back to Pennsylvania, we thought about putting in a cistern but the cost would have been prohibitively expensive.

The solution for us was far less grandiose — the Oatey Rain Wizard. At just $17.24 (at Target.com), it was much more appropriate for our budget. The Rain Wizard attaches to the downspout of your home and diverts some of the rainwater from the roof into a container of your choice. (Four used, food-grade 55 gallon barrels completed our set up. A first attempt did not end well, I am embarrassed to say, when I used plastic trash cans as a water barrels. The pressure from the water split the thin sides, flooding our garage overnight. That one disqualified me from the MacArthur Genius Awards for the rest of my life.)

Construction and Installation

the Oatey installed

The Rain Wizard comes in two pieces and is constructed of UV resistant polyethylene material that the manufacture claims is mold resistant, freezeproof, rustproof, weatherproof and impact resistant. We’ve found it to be so. In addition, it can be painted to match your downspout so it doesn’t stand out.

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The Oatey Rain Wizard fits on a standard 2 x 3 downspout and includes a four foot long hose that can be connected from the diverter to your water container. There’s also a plastic plug if you want to shut it all off. The unit is 6″ D x 7″ W x 10″ H. It’s easily installed and the job requires only a hacksaw. You simply locate a spot on the gutter that at least 18 inches above the opening of your water container and cut out a section of the gutter. (The noise made by cutting the gutter, one person remarked, is like the sound of dying cats.) You push the two pieces of the Rain Wizard on and you’re done.  (Your gutter must be bracketed firmly to your building. If not, you’ll want to do so once the Rain Wizard is attached.) The simple instructions will guide you through.

Oatey is an Ohio-based manufacturer of plumbing products who got into the rain diverter market after receiving a request for a water-saving device from the city of Cleveland. By the summer of 2009, the first models were successfully installed in a several hundred homes. “Getting that nudge from the city of Cleveland in this regard really helped us out a lot,” said Oatey product manager Dennis Nagy. Today, the Rain Wizard is one of the cheapest and best methods of harvesting rain water from your roof.

Regular Water from the Roof

Howard Godfrey, who runs this blog and who is the author of Emergency Preparedness and More A Manual on Food Storage and Survival, recalls using a system like this as a child. Beyond the collector, Howard’s system was designed to separate the debris that inevitably came off the roof into the water. But, as he says, For two years of my life I only drank water that came from the corrugated roof. We used no water treatment and drank it straight from the container. You may want to investigate further refinements to your collection system that include filtration but that’s a personal choice. We find a fair amount of debris in the water coming off our metal roof but most of it seems to get flushed down the main drain of the Rain Wizard, leaving cleaner water for us.

The Oatey Rain Wizard has been working great for us. There have been a couple of occasions where an ice plug has developed (where the water leaves the device for our water drums) but as soon as the sun hits it, the plug melts and we are back in business. All in all — especially for such a small investment — the Rain Wizard was a great addition to our homestead and one that brings additional peace of mind.

A Must Read
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2 thoughts on “Water Assurance: An Inexpensive Device”

  1. All of my gutter down pipes are 3in. X 4 in., so I called Oatey Co. to see if they had the device in that size. They said no but they had received calls for that size. Maybe if all of your readers called the company and asked for that size it would help. Their number is
    800-321-9532. Thanks for your great sight.

    1. I’m sure it is a great device, but it is not needed to collect and filter rain water. Cut the downspout 6-8″ above the barrel. A fine mesh screen over a square hole cut in the lid of a barrel will work fine. Put the screen over the hole and cut 3/4″ strips from the scrap piece and screw them around the screen like a frame with self tapping metal screws. You can even double the screen piece. If leaves build up, just knock them off.

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