Digging deep to harvest rainwater

Jessica Stingemore
Published 30 Sep 2020 
about  Charles Darwin Reserve  
Digging a trench to connect the homestead gutters.<br/> Digging a trench to connect the homestead gutters.
On a roll and moving the repaired bore tank.<br/> On a roll and moving the repaired bore tank.
That is one straight trench line and a lot of hard work.<br/> That is one straight trench line and a lot of hard work.
The upgraded chicken coop.<br/> The upgraded chicken coop.

Water is a vital and scarce resource in the midwest rangelands of WA, and here at Charles Darwin Reserve we're constantly looking for ways to improve our rainwater capture.

So earlier this Winter a small but skilled group of volunteers dug deep to harvest rainwater – an excellent way to save not only water but also money and the environment.

Several years ago most of the gutters on the reserve buildings were connected to downpipes and water tanks to capture as much water as possible.

But over time it became apparent that even more water could be harvested with a few modifications and additions.

Also requiring attention was the bore-water storage tank – which had a collapsed roof after being damaged in a storm, which resulted in the water becoming contaminated and the overflow switch not working. 

Now, anyone who has ever faced the task of digging trenches to lay pipes would be familiar with the dread of hitting an existing pipe or (worse still) an electrical cable, but thankfully we had underground plans on hand and some important knowledge from some of our long-term volunteers who had actually laid the initial pipes many years ago!

It has been another dry year to date at Charles Darwin Reserve (only 200 mm of rainfall), so the ground was rock hard and everyone was sore at the end of each day.

But teamwork prevailed and we got the trenches dug, the pipes laid, the connections attached, and the tanks joined.

And with a bit of thrifty thinking, upcycling of old materials and coordinated chaos, the bore tank was not only repaired but moved in line with the other water tanks and away from the homestead entrance. 

While the focus of the working bee was saving water, the homestead chicken coop also got a makeover – tripling the size of the old coop and preventing the local goshawk from preying on the birds. With six hens – no wait, five hens and one rooster – eggs are in plentiful supply and quiche is now a firm favourite morning tea treat! 

Finally, a big ‘shout-out’ to our local post office Wubin Trading – who managed to find and deliver the extra parts we needed to complete the job on time. Actually, not just on time but ahead of schedule – which meant more time to explore the reserve and all its ecological wonders! 
 

Digging a trench to connect the homestead gutters.<br/> Digging a trench to connect the homestead gutters.
On a roll and moving the repaired bore tank.<br/> On a roll and moving the repaired bore tank.
That is one straight trench line and a lot of hard work.<br/> That is one straight trench line and a lot of hard work.
The upgraded chicken coop.<br/> The upgraded chicken coop.