Collecting rainwater for use on your garden in drought events is simple and cheap. A water butt can be made from any large, water-tight container. Alternatively, buy a discounted water butt through Wessex Water. You can also bury or make special guttering to make your rainwater harvesting even easier and more efficient.

Rainwater Harvesting Systems Ltd: This Company is based in Gloucestershire and specialises in the design and supply of rainwater harvesting systems. Call 0845 223 5430 for more information.

Wessex Water is offering their customers discounted water butt kits from Blackwalls, which include rain diverter kits. For more details call 0870 844 3015.

A working example in Mendip: Sophie Courtiour and rainwater harvesting

Sophie has built a new and dream home. She considered the environmental impact of all the choices she made during construction, including making use of 'waste' materials, and choosing local and recycled materials for the build. She extended her environmental thinking to water use and set up a rainwater harvesting system that supplies water for her washing machine and flushes her toilets, whilst a second tank collects water for her extensive vegetable garden.
Motivation: 'It is very important to feel good about your home because it is where you live, so I just felt very strongly that I couldn't do it any other way. Your home has to be special, not just on the surface but all the way through and in how it works.'
Practicalities: Sophie needed to make trade-offs between what she could afford in both money and time, and what she ethically wanted. However, her philosophy of do what you can now and then improve on it in the future if possible meant that this was not an issue for her. The rainwater harvesting system saves her money as by reducing her mains water use. It also means that even in times of drought, her vegetables do not go thirsty.
Other ways of living sustainably: Grows all her own vegetables, composts what waste she can, minimises her water and energy usage, uses natural/untreated materials and paints where possible. Sophie plans to install photo voltaic cells at a later date, either when they have come down in price or when she is in a position to afford them.
Sophies' Top Tip: 'Don't be frightened of tradesmen! They may not have worked with the technology before but, armed with the facts and clear about your requirements, they will come on board, be very helpful and do a great job.'