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Texas Gardening: can rain barrel water be "bad"?

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blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 12, 2009
9:35 PM

Post #6257733

I got one set of my rain barrel gathering system in place about 10 days ago. It consists of 2- 55 gallon barrels. I finally got enough rain to fill one barrel and about half of the other but the water looks terrible!!! its a brownish color with yellow stuff floating on top. I figured out the yellow is pollen but should I be worried about the brown water??? is it just dirt and dust that was on the roof from the lack of rain?? I had a new roof put on in Nov,would that make a difference?? it has rained since the roof was done. I want to use this when its needed but not at the expense of my plants.I know its not going to crystal clear water coming off the roof but this is scary looking...lol..Id hate to think all my work was for nothing!
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 13, 2009
1:33 AM

Post #6258908

I would not be scared to use it for plants. The sediment will settle to the bottom and if you feel the need, you could filter it also. The murkiness will settle, it probably looks worse as it is freshly stirred up.

Good for you to have a rainwater catchment system in place. Something we all need to be conscious of. I have two barrels that just catch runoff and the plants appreciate a rainwater treat.
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 13, 2009
4:08 PM

Post #6261213

after last night both barrels are filled and seem to be holding..lol.. the first barrel has cleared a bit as the "stuff" settled to the bottom..it doesnt look so bad now.. but wow that stuff was nasty looking before it settled..
WildcatThicket
Trenton(close to), TX
(Zone 8a)

March 13, 2009
4:57 PM

Post #6261438

How do you keep the mosquitoes from breeding in the barrels? When I was collecting rain water I had a mosquito farm in about 3 days.
texasrockgarden
Canyon Lake, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 13, 2009
6:21 PM

Post #6261765

blkraven2
It's all relative to who and what you WANT to believe. As we all know to some people everything is bad for you. One has to wonder how those people get thru life.

I think about it this way, what ever has contaminated roof water has also contaminated the air I breath. If I wanted to drink water from a cistern I would have it analyzed and then take the necessary steps to have it purified.

The off color is as you have said, probably from the pollen of it or it's tea from the pollen being in water.

Jerry

WildcatThicket
Trenton(close to), TX
(Zone 8a)

March 13, 2009
7:29 PM

Post #6262023

I would get thru life alot better if I knew what to do about the mosquitoes in my rain water. Last year the Dear Warden threatened me with solitary if I didn't dump the larve and not farm mosquitoes ever again. Anybody else have mosquitos in the rain water? If so, what do you do? Pond scum and Great Pyrenees slobbers I can handle.
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 13, 2009
9:52 PM

Post #6262544

boy Wildcat, that deer warden was pretty audacious. I wonder why it was his business that you collect rain water--last I heard that was definitely not illegal. You can always add a little bleach to the water. It evaporates in a few days so you will have repeat the application--or get mosquito dunks for ponds. I'm assuming you are just using the water for garden plants, right? I think they have mosquito dunks that are safe for fish too (its been about 6-7 years since I had a pond).
Debbie
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 13, 2009
10:46 PM

Post #6262738

Wildcat Thicket..I just started collecting the rain water so I dont have the skeeters ..yet ...lol..but I was going to add a touch of bleach to the water like Debbie recommended.. Im to cheap to buy the dunks...

" As we all know to some people everything is bad for you. One has to wonder how those people get thru life." Ive often wondered about that myself Jerry...lol..


WildcatThicket
Trenton(close to), TX
(Zone 8a)

March 13, 2009
10:49 PM

Post #6262749

Thanks Debbie. That was my Dear Warden, the one who keeps me in line, not the game warden. When the DW givers orders I snap to. Bleach kills em? That is good to know. I can use the DW's bleach and tell her I am killing larve when I get caught and it is her fault I am a thief. LOL I just had a thought, unusual I know, my dogs, cats and other animals drink the water along with the plants. How much bleach per gallon would be safe for consumption and still kill the larve?
WildcatThicket
Trenton(close to), TX
(Zone 8a)

March 13, 2009
10:52 PM

Post #6262759

blkraven2 I am also too cheap to buy dunks even tho I never even thought about dunks.
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 13, 2009
11:00 PM

Post #6262790

it wont take much to kill them. When it does stop raining Ill going to put about a 1/4 cup in each barrel and see how it goes... if I see wiggles then Ill add another 1/4 cup.. I just wish I had more barrels set up I could have filled a lot of them with the 3 inches of rain Ive gotten so far.. hopefully next spring Ill have another set put in place Im planning on a 3 barrel set in the next spot
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 13, 2009
11:01 PM

Post #6262796

sorry Wildcat--I assumed you meant "the men in black"--which I thought was rather downright nervy of them--lol

bleach can and is sometimes used to purify water for drinking if you are really in a fix--so I can't see how that would hurt the plants if you let it sit for a couple of days
Debbie
bananna18
Colleyville, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 13, 2009
11:02 PM

Post #6262799

Some of the commercial RB have two layers of netting to prevent mosquitoes. Don't know if you have this already and it doesn't work or can rig something.
bigbubbles
Austin, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 13, 2009
11:05 PM

Post #6262815

I have a 300 gallon tank and periodically add a cup of bleach...mainly because the water has an odor after a while. I use the dunks, but I really don't think they work very well. The little mosquito fish in my pond do a better job. I wonder if they'd work in the tank? We have a 'first flush' overflow on the downspout. I think the mosquitoes breed in there. I have to remind DH to open it and drain it. Not a pleasant job, as the water usually comes out forcefully and soaks him!I checked with the woman who runs the rainwater harvesting unit for Austin about the stinky water, and she suggested adding the bleach...so it must be environmentally safe.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 14, 2009
12:46 AM

Post #6263264

Yes, bleach will break down after standing for a day or two. I have used Dunks but now use fiberglass screening. It works fine and I don't have to remember to add dunks on a monthly basis.
Bubbles ~ I've not tried the fish but heard of others using goldfish in the rain barrels. Fish should work well.
blkraven2
Wells, TX
(Zone 8b)

March 14, 2009
12:56 AM

Post #6263305

hummm??? goldfish.. what happens when it gets really hot???? its not like the barrel is part way in the ground so it stays cooler for them. I believe above 90degress can kill them... or you use most of the water and then dont get any rain for a while.. I think Ill just stick to bleach and netting
Filaluvr
Merkel, TX

April 1, 2009
9:41 AM

Post #6348616

I use one walmart feeder goldfish per barrel.Sometimes they die but at the quarter price they can be replaced. I always have a large piece of styrofoam floating in them to assist bees and other bugs in escaping and this also provides some shade to cool the water for the fish. Keeping the barrel full as possbile can also help. Adding an small aquatic plant can also boost the liveability of the goldfish. I never feed the fish, and feel the waste they provide might help the plants that get that water. The fish always grow to several inches by the time freeze warnings come around. I have wintered the fish by using small tires in the barrels. I usually just find someone on freecycle that wants a larger goldfish. The water has yet to freeze inside the tire. I guess it insulates it. This is also a stockmans trick for those large water tanks. Drawbacks are stupid cows getting their heads stuck or eating the tires. If I buy goldfish and it is hot outside I put the bag they are in inside another bag with some ice. Always float the fish bag for 15 minutes in its chosen barrel before releasing it, but not in direct sunlight as it acts like a greenhouse. Any more questions just ask. Bleach is cheap but why add chemicals when fish are healthy and in the long run probably cheaper as well. Kathy aka Filaluvr
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2009
11:09 AM

Post #6348721

Thank you for that good info... I am thinking it would be better for the rain barrels not to be in full sun with fish in them. Mine stay hot enough in shade and perhaps painting them a light color would help too. For the moss that accumulates, maybe a Plecostumus http://www.netpets.com/fish/reference/fishid/fresh/details/images/pleco.jpg (or what the kids called a "muck muncher") would work too.

And, welcome to DG ~ glad to have you join us... pod
marydil51
Seadrift, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2009
12:54 PM

Post #6348982

I always heard that the darker the rain water the more nutrients it has in it. ( like nitrogen).
Pay attention to the rain when it thunders and lightening to see if the rain water is darker. I think it is. You are suppose to paint the rain barrels so alga doesn't grow, also, have some kind of closure at the top where the gutter goes in -- helps with the mequitoes. It really needs to be a closed system.
My husband has a fishing cabin where you take a bath, etc with rain water ( or else you have to haul in your water) and he does put clorax in it. The tank is painted a dark brown out in the sun. Just a little bit of clorax goes a long way in cleaning up the water. Of course, I don't think the plants care.
Mary
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2009
1:39 PM

Post #6349149

WildcatThicket,

How are the mosquitoes getting through the fine mesh you have attached to the top of your barrel? I know Texas Mosquitoes are pretty tough, but I don't think they carry bolt cutters. :) They have to get in there somehow and lay eggs.

This message was edited Apr 1, 2009 8:40 AM
sweezel
McKinney, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2009
1:49 PM

Post #6349197

I have four 60 gallon rain barrels (and just bought a fifth but fancy rain barrel yesterday) and occasionally the water looks a little murky, but it does not seem to hurt. All my plants, especially my houseplants, love the water.

As far as keeping the mosquitos out, I use window screen. You can buy a roll (get the aluminum kind) from walmart. If the rain barrel has a removable top, you can put the screen under it (I use gorilla glue). If the top does not come off, use a strap or something to wrap it around the top.

I attached a couple pictures. The picture on the right is of the better type of rain barrel that had a screw top (it was a pickle container). The picture on the left is of my rain barrel that I cut under the lip to make a removable top (also had to cut the whole in the top of this one) . The "top" was then flipped so it would sit down on the barrel.
WildcatThicket
Trenton(close to), TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2009
2:38 PM

Post #6349414

I never mentioned a screen. That was someone else I'm sure.
feldon30
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 1, 2009
4:10 PM

Post #6349789

I was using a bit of sarcasm. I apologize if it did not translate. I would suggest getting a screen and sealing any openings so that mosquitoes cannot get in and lay eggs.
WildcatThicket
Trenton(close to), TX
(Zone 8a)

April 1, 2009
5:05 PM

Post #6350032

Sarcasm is wasted on the uneducated.
Filaluvr
Merkel, TX

April 1, 2009
6:09 PM

Post #6350350

Podster, Thanks for the welcome. More on fish in barrels. The hotter the water the less oxygen available and the more the fish needs it. Goldfish prefer cooler water but are carp cousins so very flexible. The key is to make the temp change slowly, and give them time to adjust. Plecos as we pet store (former) owners call them can do well but are tropical and more sensative to water and oxygen fluctuations. THey can become aggressive, esp when their food supply runs out, and will eat goldfish or any others. They grow very quickly and then what? Hard to rehome them at the end of the year. They will not tolerate cold temps anything like a goldfish will. Usually you cannot overwinter plecos without an additional heat source. Goldfish will eat the algae some and algae that is green is beneficial to adding oxygen to the water. If you add a water plant it will compete for nutrients with the algae and reduce its number snaturally. Nutrients can come from the fish waste. As a general rule fish need 7 square inches of water surface per inch of fish if no additional oxygen adding measures are included. This requirement goes up as the water temp does. The water in the barrel can get very low, but when it does it can get hotter quicker and ammonia level will rise do to concentration levels due to waste, if in the sun esp. When I buy fish I always ask for very little water and mostly air in the bag. Alot of water is not necessary because the ammonia content from the fish waste will not have time to build to toxic levels, but the amount of oxygen might deplete depending on how long before I get them home. I never add more than one fish per barrel. In the fall sometimes they are 6-8 inches long. You do the math. Covering the water some will help reduce evaporation, but can create a greenhouse effect. I am sure this is WAY more fish barrrel info than anyone wanted, but knowing too much is an oxymoron in my book, Kathy in Texas
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 2, 2009
12:14 AM

Post #6351970

LOL ~ I appreciate the info and your knowledge. I am the fiberglass screen on my rainbarrels poster and I was toying with the goldfish idea. Think you persuaded me otherwise. Interesting too to hear about the "muck muncher" being aggressive. A friend put one in his goldfish pond but never saw it by the end of summer. He may have had a raccoon fishing at night... At any rate, I think I'll talk him out of it next time. Never though of knowing too much as an oxymoron... I always figured that would be a senate intelligence committee! LOL
Filaluvr
Merkel, TX

April 2, 2009
3:06 AM

Post #6352900

I have seen them latch on to a larger fish and basically suck a hole in them. They eat ALOT and people often dont realize it til they suck someones scales off. Sometimes they just think the fish died naturally but my money is always on a hungry pleco. It seems they get a taste for flesh too, and prefer it over the green stuff once they get started. If you have one in your tank it is always a good idea to weigh down with a rock or special made aquarium clip some organic squash or leafy veggies. Other fish will pick at it too. Dont leave it in a heated tank for more than a few hours or it will spoil. The only senator will a hill of beans sense is our own Dr Ron Paul. Shame the media blocked out the only voice of reason in all his years of service. Kathy
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 2, 2009
10:48 AM

Post #6353664

No aquariums right now but that is good to know. We always liked those guys... now, I would think twice about it. Thanks... pod
genredneck
Gordonville, TX

April 6, 2009
12:11 PM

Post #6371190

We are new at rainwater harvesting, and recently bought 4 , 320 gallon plastic(or fiberglas) tanks that had contained hydraulic fluid. Any suggestions on how to clean them? Someone suggested going to a car wash...We plan on 2 for our home, and 2 for our cabin.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 6, 2009
12:13 PM

Post #6371199

Are you using them for household water or plants?
genredneck
Gordonville, TX

April 6, 2009
2:11 PM

Post #6371685

Only for plants and garden.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 6, 2009
2:16 PM

Post #6371715

You know, a carwash that has the degreaser setting would probably work. Then using the hot soapy water and rinsing well. I suspect that will get a bit expensive tho.
genredneck
Gordonville, TX

April 6, 2009
3:06 PM

Post #6372001

The degreaser would work, if the water is real hot. It couldn't cost much. The tanks only have about a 8 inch opening in the top, but if I can get the remainder of oil out I will be a happy camper! Couldn't be more expensive than the water , our base cost is high, and with the drought we've had water is precious here.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 6, 2009
5:26 PM

Post #6372745

Water is becoming a precious commodity in many places. I hope more folks realize it and use it wisely. Good luck!
Filaluvr
Merkel, TX

April 6, 2009
7:51 PM

Post #6373452

You might find out what its opposite is and use that first. Like acids are neutralized with alkalines. You can take out chlorine with Vit C, for instance. Baking soda, zeolite and activated charcoal might also be useful in detoxifying those containers. I would not let any water coming from them touch the edible plant parts. Just too risky. I bet the Hydralic fluid is a carcinogen. Good luck and be safe. Kathy aka Filaluvr
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 6, 2009
8:00 PM

Post #6373475

Chlorine is not a base (it won't be neutralized with an acid--vitamin c)--its a negative ion with not a high reactivity level. I teach high school chem and physics.
Filaluvr
Merkel, TX

April 6, 2009
10:55 PM

Post #6374249

Interesting, got that info from college professor. I dont know enough to research it properly. I wonder if it matters the type of Vit C used. I cant remember what kind I used when my daughter was having reactions to the warm chlorine water in her baths those years ago. It did seemd to work, or at least it changed something that made her not break out in hives. The professor is dead now that told os about it. Thanks for the correction.Have a great day! Kathy
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 6, 2009
11:12 PM

Post #6374341

Vitamin c is ascorbic acid--what you were probably trying to counteract in bath water was the flouride which is a lot more caustic and dangerous in drinking and bath water than most people realize.

http://www.holisticmed.com/fluoride/

This message was edited Apr 6, 2009 6:14 PM
htop
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)


April 7, 2009
7:59 PM

Post #6378563

dmj1218, thank you for mentioning the ill effects caused by fluoride. The majority of citizens in San Antonio defeated adding fluoride to our drinking water 2 or 3 times I think. The City Council just kept adding the measure to the ballot every time we had an election. It either finally passed or they just added it anyway. I can't remember. My relatives and I Ihave surmised that the fluoride has been damaging our grass and plants when we have had to water a lot during the prolonged drought. Can't prove it; however, there are many studies that state that it may harm plants. Sometimes the levels of chlorine in my water far exceeds the amount recommended for a swimming pool. You can smell it. My neighbor tests it. It actually burns my plants' leaves sometimes. What are these doing to people?
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 7, 2009
8:15 PM

Post #6378619

Hazel--its the petrochemical company lobbies that keep flouridation in the water supplies now. Good dentists will tell you it has no effect at all--another Monsanto, dupont, and adm product. Air Liquide sells a lot of it in Texas--one of my cousins used to work for them.Same thing with chlorine levels being higher than they need to be--can you imagine the profits for the above mentioned companies for all the Municipal Water Districts that use them in America? A very big lobby indeed

I've had a reverse osmosis system at my house since built it 17 years ago. I figure its about paid for itself a billion times over. Its located at the main water line entrance to the house (the garage for me) so it covers ALL the water coming into the house.

I'd be much more concerned with the flouridation you are receiving internally and externally than what's hitting your plants.
Debbie
htop
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)


April 8, 2009
1:30 PM

Post #6381617

Yep, all boils down to profits. The City of San Antonio told people that if they didn't want to drink the water, buy bottle water.
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 8, 2009
11:51 PM

Post #6384065

How foolish... then they are faced with the water bottle disposal problem. That is govt! Big or small...
htop
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)


April 9, 2009
3:25 AM

Post #6384910

And it may be getting worse in the future.
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 10, 2009
2:26 AM

Post #6389512

actually about 85-90% of the bottled water (particularly the cheap brands) contain fluoride--you really have to read the labels--smart water (and its counterpart vitamin water), evian, icelandic, etc. are really the only ones treated by reverse osmosis...and that's the only process that will remove fluoride (its a small ion).

If they don't care about the quality of the drinking water (and now they pour chloramides, etc. into the mix, so I know that they don't)--I really doubt they give a hoot (to put it mildly) about plastic water disposal problems either.

I still buy bottled water for work, etc, but I buy smart water or icelandic now, if I do.
Debbie
htop
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)


April 10, 2009
2:55 AM

Post #6389664

I drink vitamin water a lot.
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 10, 2009
2:58 AM

Post #6389680

I do too--it tastes like the kool-aid we drank as kids.
;)
htop
San Antonio, TX
(Zone 8b)


April 10, 2009
3:11 AM

Post #6389716

It sure does!
bigbubbles
Austin, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 10, 2009
3:19 AM

Post #6389747

I'm wondering if during the summer when there's no rain to fill the tank, I could fill it with city water, let it set, and hopefully the chlorine would dissipate. Wouldn't be as good as rainwater, but better than pouring fresh city water on plants.
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 10, 2009
3:21 AM

Post #6389751

chlorine actually dissipates pretty quick--if Austin's adding chloramides (and I imagine they are) that won't
bigbubbles
Austin, TX
(Zone 8b)

April 10, 2009
4:35 AM

Post #6390021

well, I may just try it...
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 10, 2009
11:15 AM

Post #6390411

And what effect would chloramides have on plants?
dmj1218
west Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 10, 2009
2:01 PM

Post #6390853

I'd be much more concerned about the effects of chloramines and chloramides on myself than the plants...google is a wonderful tool

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