The Joy of Rainy Days!

Publish Date: Saturday September 30, 2023

The Joy of Rainy Days!

Autumn has well and truly arrived which means it’s coming into tree planting season for us!

Our tree nursery at Pitcairn, on the edge of Glenrothes, is continuing to develop. And the latest addition is an 800 litre IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container), also known as a water tank (above). Thank you to Fife Council and Balbirnie Allotments for donating.

It may not look very glamorous, but this tank will be crucial for our young trees to get enough water to survive the increasingly hot and dry summers until they can be planted out in the colder months.

Our next job is to set up a rainwater catchment system to ensure the water supply to our tree nursery is sustainable and utilises zero emissions. Harnessing rainwater for irrigation is a great way to reduce pressures on water supplies during the summer and is a small step we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint and adapt to a changing climate.


For a country that gets so much rain, it’s surprising that harnessing rainwater isn’t already commonplace in our homes, gardens and workplaces. Rainwater catchment systems at their most basic can be used to water the garden and wash the car. More complicated systems can be installed to provide entire households with water supplied purely from rainwater.

If you’re looking for a simple way to increase your sustainability, reduce your impact on the planet and get one up on your friends and family, why not set up a rainwater catchment system at home?

All you need is a gutter, a pipe and a roof – house, garage, shed, greenhouse or other. Simply direct the water through the gutter, down the pipe and into a large free-standing container and watch the water flow in…literally! Water butts are available at most garden or DIY shops or can be found second-hand online.

A rainwater catchment system at home

Why is rainwater catchment good for the climate and the environment?

– During dry periods, the pressures put on treated water supply resources and infrastructure lead to increased emissions. By collecting water during months when water is plenty, to be used during months when it is not, you can directly reduce the pressure on these supply systems. This protects our burns, rivers, lochs and reservoirs for future generations. And it could save you money if your water is metered.
– Harvesting rainwater can also reduce the risk of flooding, soil erosion and degradation of our natural environments in both rural and urban areas.
– Your garden plants will thank you! Rainwater is better for your plants than water from the tap, which is treated for safe human consumption. When used for irrigation, tap water can increase the pH levels of plant roots and decrease nutrient availability, impacting how well your plants grow.

A few things to bear in mind:

– Make sure to cover any water butts with a tight-fitting lid or netting. This will stop any small animals from getting stuck in the barrel, as well as prevent leaves from building up in the water.
– Use some old pallets, bricks, concrete slabs etc to raise the water butt up off the ground. It’s much easier to fit a watering can underneath.
– Stored water can harbour some risks to our health if consumed. So if you’re using it to water veggies, make sure they have been fully cleaned before enjoying!

So, let’s start celebrating the joy of rainy days and get that rainwater harvested! Visit Climate Action Fife for more ideas on how you can make a difference.

Hanna Rennie

Conservation Officer

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