I plan to collect rainfall (this autumn or next spring) from roof into plastic tanks (1 m3 capacity) and use collected water later for watering vegetables.

water tank

My question is for how long can rain water be stored in such tanks? Will it be safe for watering purposes after 3 or more months? What can be done to keep collected water good for extended period of time?


As far as plants go, forever. For ingestion by humans two years is tops as long as 1/4 cup of bleach has been added to that amount 3X3X3 feet? The chlorine evaporates rapidly when the tank is opened to the air or water is drawn off and allowed to sit before drinking. Plants do not worry about disease and digestive disorders. If the water collected isn't used for a few months I would drain it and clean the tank and add fresh water, a bit of bleach and it will be fine for both humans and plants. Just in case humans needed the water as well.

I would use a tiny bit of bleach for water collected for watering plants anyway. Rain water is by no means sterile or drinkable. We used to eat 'snow cones' with sugary syrup. No more. That snow is full of worms...eeeuuuww!

Where I live, Oregon state, it is ILLEGAL to collect rainwater! I am so serious. Check the laws where you live. Just to hide illicit water collecting behavior and structures! Anxious grins?

  • Do you have a citation for worms in snow or is that a joke?
    – AllInOne
    Sep 16 '18 at 10:12
  • 1
    It is NOT in any way illegal to harvest rainwater in the state of Oregon. Here is an Oregon brochure from the building codes division that has facts about harvesting rainwater in Oregon. oregon.gov/bcd/Documents/brochures/3660.pdf
    – Tim Nevins
    Sep 17 '18 at 21:17
  • Hey Tim, haven't looked at your brochure just yet...we LIVE here in Oregon and dealing with the State and County Codes we were dumbfounded to find it was illegal in Oregon. I think this is also true of Washington State. Too weird. I'll look at your brochure...for sure.
    – stormy
    Sep 18 '18 at 1:29
  • @AllinOne I haven't a citation for this but I learned this in high school or college and bringing this gag me tidbit to social gatherings, it seemed common knowledge that my mom didn't know...ugh. Worth finding a citation. Our atmosphere however, is full of life, maybe bacteria not worms? Worms can be very very small, nematodes? Not to mention the chemistry sprayed trying to manipulate the weather; primarily heavy metals.
    – stormy
    Sep 18 '18 at 1:33
  • portlandoregon.gov/bds/article/68621 Laws have been changed 3 years ago? But still, lots of laws on collecting and how that water collected can be used affect rainwater. Isn't it interesting to read, 'Rainwater is not Potable'? We've been here 6 years so perhaps the law has been softened? One is not allowed to collect rainwater for anything other than non potable use. Love the fact that Portland's piping is over 80 years old. Numbnuts.
    – stormy
    Sep 18 '18 at 21:50

If you're collecting rainwater via guttering round the roof of your house, ensure the gutters are kept clear of debris and clean - water from dirty or clogged guttering kept stored for even a relatively short period may cause disease in any plants you use it for later on.

You've said you want to use it for plants, but I would not recommend you use it as drinking water - your roof will have pollutant particulates which will be washed into the guttering and thus into your storage system. Bleach, or any other water sterilizing solution, does not remove particulate air pollutants, so that water will not be potable, though will be fine to use to water plants.

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