Rainwater Harvesting in India: Meaning, Importance, Types and Advantages

24 May 2023
Rainwater Harvesting in India: Meaning, Importance, Types and Advantages Article
With only 4 per cent of water resources available to meet the thirst of 18 per cent of the global population, India is one of the most water-stressed countries globally. Conserving water with various techniques is the solution. One of the most promising methods is rainwater harvesting.

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Earth has several natural resources and water is considered one of the most precious ones. This is because water is essential for sustaining the lives of all living beings. You would be astonished to know that water scarcity has turned into a global phenomenon. India suffers from an extreme shortage of water, and the situation is only worsening over the years. Thus, preserving rainwater has become essential to collect water for various purposes, including irrigation. Rainwater harvesting is an effective technique to support the existing water supply. Go through this blog to learn about rainwater harvesting in India, its meaning, advantages, and disadvantages of rainwater harvesting.

What is Rainwater Harvesting?

If you are wondering what is rain water harvesting, you have arrived at the right place. Here you will find answers to what is rain harvesting. In simple terms, rain water harvesting means storing rainwater to use it during times of water scarcity. It collects and stores rainwater for the purposes of human use. This rain harvesting technique provides water to farming facilities or farmers to water crops.

Importance of Rainwater Harvesting

As climate change is causing frequent droughts in many parts of India, it has more critical than ever to understand the importance of rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is essential for conserving water resources and facilitating less dependence on municipal water supplies. It has the possibility of solving the issue of water permanently.

India faces a critical water crisis during summer and a bad monsoon results in low crop yield and food shortage. Farmers suffer the most as they do not have an adequate water supply for their farms.

Thus, rain water harvesting can be a boon for farmers who get a consistent water supply through monsoons only. The key importance of rainwater harvesting is that the preserved water can be stored for future use.

Types of Rainwater Harvesting Systems

In general, there are several types of rainwater harvesting systems, including water butt, direct pumped, indirect gravity, retention ponds, and underground storage. Let us see one by one briefly.

Indirect Gravity

This rain harvesting system has a high-level tank, also known as a header tank. The harvested water is pumped to this header tank, which then supplies it to outlets using gravity. The pump functions only to fill the header tank. In addition, the mains water is not pumped to the main harvesting tank but to the high-level tank.

Water Butt

This is among the basic types of rainwater harvesting systems. A container collects the rainwater with the help of a drainpipe or natural rainfall. Generally, this accumulated water is used to water gardens. If you use a rainwater filter in the water tank, the harvested rainwater quality can be improved.

Underground Storage

If your area receives rainfall in only one season, you might consider going with in-ground storage tanks. To lower the evaporation rate, these storage spaces are efficiently insulated. One of the primary benefits of rainwater harvesting via this system is that the stored water does not freeze below the freezing depth. This is not the case for surface storage tanks. An electric pump is required to supply water from the underground tanks to the outlets.

Direct Pumped

In this type, rain is harvested with the use of a direct pump either in an underground tank or in a control unit within the house. These are of two types, submersible rain harvesting and suction rainwater harvesting.

  • Submersible: In this rain harvesting system, a submersible direct pump is used to store the rain in an underground tank that supplies harvested water to an appliance. Water from the main supply needs to be pumped to the tank if there is a possibility of the tank running dry. It helps maintain the water supply.
  • Suction: It differs from the submersible direct pump harvesting. The main difference is that the pump is placed in a control unit of your house. It could be a utility room. This unit also handles backup from the main water supply, so there is no need to supply mains water to the underground pump.

Retention Ponds

Surface runoff water is collected in retention ponds, which then improve the water quality using natural processes like soil filtration, decomposition, and sedimentation. Such ponds can have a mud bottom; however, they can also be covered with concrete. Some of the main uses of rainwater harvesting through this system are irrigation, groundwater recharge and watering livestock.

Uses of Rainwater Harvesting

There exist numerous uses of rainwater harvesting systems. Check out the following list of uses of rainwater harvesting:

  • Watering Livestock: Harvested rainwater is highly suitable for watering livestock. It is extremely useful in regions where water is scarce.
  • Cleaning & Laundry: Rainwater is most valuable for domestic work like laundry and cleaning purposes. Using this water will go a long way in reducing your water bills.
  • Toilet Flushing: You can use this rainwater for flushing in washrooms or toilets. It will prevent the waste of water to a great extent.
  • Farming: Rainwater is a suitable water source for irrigation as it does not contain chlorine and other chemicals. Thus, farmers can harvest a healthier crop yield through the introduction of rainwater harvesting.

What are the Advantages of Rainwater Harvesting?

Rain harvesting is a sustainable water management practice to support our increasing water needs. Also, there are several uses of rainwater harvesting that make people environmentally responsible and self-sufficient. The following are the key advantages of rain water harvesting:

Environmental Benefits

Rainwater harvesting reduces surface runoff and thus prevents contamination of surface water with fertilizers, sediment, and pesticides. In addition, a rain harvesting system reduces soil erosion as there is no runoff.

Non-dependence on Municipal Water Supplies

You can use rainwater for several non-potable purposes like washing, toilet flushing and irrigation. This reduces the demand for municipal water supplies, helping to ease the load on municipal water treatment facilities. A rain harvesting system lessens dependence on municipal water supplies that not only conserves natural resources but also reduces your carbon footprint.

Cost Savings

A rain harvesting system saves money for homeowners through a reduction in the water bought from the water utility company. Rain harvesting can help significantly in reducing your water bills, mainly if you use rainwater for non-potable purposes like irrigation or washing.

Increased Property Value

The uses of rainwater harvesting can also boost the value of your property. If you have a property with a rain harvesting system installed, it will be more attractive to buyers. You will be able to sell it for a higher price.


One of the top benefits of rainwater harvesting is that it offers non-potable water that can be applied to sectors ranging from agriculture to commercial industries. Farmers can get quality water to be used for irrigation purposes in their fields. Among many advantages of rainwater harvesting, the best one is that the water preserved does not contain impurities like dissolved salts, minerals and chemicals. Thus, it is best to water the crops. 

Disadvantages of Rainwater Harvesting

You must know both advantages and disadvantages of rainwater harvesting so that you can make an informed choice. There are a few disadvantages attached to the rain water harvesting system. However, they are not highly problematic and can be easily ignored. The disadvantages of rain water harvesting include:

  • Needs regular maintenance.
  • Demands certain technical skills.
  • Can attract waterborne diseases.
  • Limited rainwater due to lack of rainfall.


Rainwater harvesting has been termed as the need of the hour. The entire world is experiencing the problem of water scarcity. Indian agriculture is heavily dependent on rainy seasons. But the rainfall is distributed unevenly across the country. Also, water is scarce for drinking and commercial purposes. Rainwater harvesting offers a positive chance to replenish groundwater and provide water supply in regions facing scarcity.

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