What People Say

Baby, it’s cold out. How to protect your rainwater harvesting system from freezing temperatures.

The record freezing temperature across the country can cause real problems with rainwater harvesting systems.  Areas accustom to mild temperature each winter are scrabbling to prevent broken pipes and indoor flooding.  Rainwater harvesting systems installed in mild climates are in danger of experiencing these same issues. Precautions or contingency measures need to be taken to prevent freeze damage.


Since The Original Rainwater Pillow is so easily customized to fit just about any space, most are being installed in conditioned areas.  With this type of installation, the only concern is that all the water in the pipes exposed to the cold must drain completely into the pillow.


The Original Rainwater Pillow is build with material that can withstand -31 degrees F.

Unfortunately, pipes and pumps  connected to the pillow cannot be allowed to freeze and will need protection.



In cold weather climates, many pillows are simply drained until mild temperatures arrive in March.  This is a simple way to handle freezing temperatures if you are only harvesting rainwater for irrigation.


When shutting down the RWH system is not an option, then the system design needs to eliminate freeze damage potential.  Here are a few ideas to get you through a short duration of freezing events.


Insulation is the first line of defense. A large volume of water will need to be exposed to below freezing temperatures over a long period of time in order for the water to freeze solid. Destruction of pipes or pumps is only caused when the water inside freezes completely.  Your pipes are most vulnerable because they contain a small volume of water which freezes quickly.  The amount of insulation required depends on how cold it gets and the duration.


A second step is to circulate the water with the pump continuously throughout the freezing period.  Even slow moving water will prevent a solid freeze.  This is a short term solution but can protect your rainwater harvesting system while keeping all the water in your tank.


Lastly, the water can be heated as is often done in remote cold locations.  Various options are available including solar, propane, and electricity.  These are expensive options over a long term period but excellent for short durations of freezing.  Pipes also need to be either heated separately or have a continuous flow of water with a small pump.


A freeze prevention plan must be included in the design phase of a rainwater harvesting system.  A well designed system means less maintenance which is always better.



What are you drinking this holiday season ?

At a recent holiday gathering I was once again asked ” Why would you drink rainwater ?  After all, rainwater picks up all kinds of pollutants in the air and from your roof. It is just so dirty and would require elaborate filtration and maintenance.  Municipal water is tested and so much cleaner.”  Well, my response was that when you compare the water data tests it shows quite a different story.

The following table compares drinking water from the municipal source and treated rainwater. The municipal water is directly collected from the tap and the rainwater is collected from an asphalt shingle roof, stored and then treated.

 The rainwater treatment process is designed to exceed EPA drinking water standards and includes:

 300 micron downspout filtration * first flush  * aeration * 20 micron filtration * 5 micron filtration * .5 micron charcoal block * UV light

This rainwater treatment process might seem elaborate but in reality is quite simple. Maintenance is easily managed by the system owner which includes filter cleaning and UV light replacement. The UV light unit includes a malfunction alarm.

The table below proves rainwater can be a cleaner drinking water source.  The bottom line is that water quality is higher if collected before it hits the ground. Water quality in lakes and rivers can have extreme fluctuations based on rain events, storm water pollution, and other environmental factors.


The Original Rainwater Pillow Installation Case Study

Marist High School
Sandy Springs, GA

A 5,000 gallon custom size Original Rainwater Pillow has been installed in the crawl space of a new modular classroom.
The Pillow is 32 ft x 10 ft x 2.5 ft

Rainwater is harvested from a 1,632 sq ft roof providing an annual collection potential of 51,000 gallons. The air conditioning condensation is also collected and stored in the pillow.

A 20 gallon per minute demand pump will supply irrigation for the new landscape and the organic garden. The irrigation system includes drip, bubblers, and a soil moister sensor to ensure water efficiency.

This is the second Original Rainwater Pillow system installed at the school to control storm water run-off into the
bordering Chattahoochee River tributary.

The Marist School is dedicated to increasing their sustainable design footprint and include rainwater harvesting as a key component to all new construction. The Original Rainwater Pillow is a perfect fit for the crawl space area under the new modular buildings.

What is a Rainwater Pillow ?

Copy of best greenhaven    Copy of pillow kits 047

Rainwater harvesting is a proven technology that reduces the demand on municipal water, controls storm water runoff pollution, and reduces energy cost through source point collection and use.

The Original Rainwater Pillow system is an innovative rainwater collection system designed to be stored in horizontal wasted space (no excavation or visible tank). Custom pillow sizes up to 200,000 gallons are manufactured to fit the available space for commercial and residential projects. Complete turn key rainwater harvesting systems for potable and non potable applications.

The Original Rainwater Pillow is a new product with a long history.  Flexible pillows were designed by the military over 50 years ago for fuel cells.  Rainwater Collection Solutions simply used the pillow and designed a self maintaining rainwater harvesting system.  The most remarkable aspect of  The Original Rainwater Pillow is that it is the only truly customizable above ground rainwater harvesting container.   Pillows are manufactured up to 200,000 gallons as a single unit to fit the required dimensional footprint.  Since pillows are flexible, they are easy and convenient to ship world wide.

We provide the complete rainwater harvesting kit including filters, pillow, pump and fittings for both potable and non-potable applications. Pump and filtration options selected based on site specific requirements.

   under deck


Product Specifications


  • NSF 61 and FDA Compliant

Reinforced Polymer alloy (polyester scrim coated on both sides with PVC  polymer)

Fabric weight 6.5 oz sq yard

Total weight 30 oz sq yard

Breaking Strength 550 lbs per inch

Tear 80 lbs

Adhesion 35 lbs/inch

Abrasion resistance >2000 cycles

Low Temperature – 30 F

High Temperature +160

Radio frequency welded seams


  • Standard: 3/4″ thru 2″
  • 4″ thru 6″ Available Upon Request
  • Aluminum, Stainless steel, Polypropylene with Camlock, Storz or threaded fittings to accommodate hoses
  • Ball Valves, Pressure Relief Vents and Caps


  • Ports for Periodic Cleaning and Inspections
  • Emergency Plugs
  • Repair Kits
  • Operational Spare Parts
  • Pressure Relief Valves

US Sen. Roger Wicker learns about rainwater harvesting with The Original Rainwater Pillow.


We are very excited to be a part of this project. A 2,500 gallon Original Rainwater Pillow collects water from the home’s roof. The water flows thru a four stage UV light purifcation system before entering the home for complete indoor use.

Houses for Africa: Colom’s vision on display in prototype

Carmen K. Sisson

August 23, 2012 10:26:14 AM

It quickly became apparent why Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chose to ride with Wil Colom rather than go to New Hope alone Wednesday.  

Even with the address in hand and a rough idea of what he would find on Lauren Road, Wicker still might have driven past his destination, assuming the tidy houses on the pine-strewn lot were an ordinary subdivision. 

The shine in Colom’s eyes as he and Wicker walked up the driveway told a different story: He believes these simple structures will revolutionize Africa in the same way cellular technology has revolutionized the world.  

Colom, an attorney and philanthropist, has spent eight years working on this project, and Wicker has been involved from its conception, when Quality Housing was little more than the skeletal framework of a larger-than-life dream. 

Accompanied by his business partner, Utah lawyer James Parkinson, and other business owners from around the country, Colom entered one of the houses and walked into the kitchen.  

When he turned on the faucet and clean water spilled from the spigot, the collective reaction was amazement. Everyone crowded around him, thrusting styrofoam cups to be filled.  

Colom took the first swallow. It tasted like the future.  

A call to action 

Colom’s vision of affordable housing in Africa began nearly a decade ago on the Serengeti Plain. 

As he stood beside a scarlet-clad Maasai warrior, the man reached beneath his robe and extracted an object. There, among a tribe of semi-nomadic people who lived by the spear, Colom witnessed an elder being summoned — by cell phone.  

Solar power kept the phone charged; a gas generator powered the cellular tower.  

But the continent remains besieged with problems. Colom believes houses like the ones he and Parkinson are building will solve the housing shortage and improve the health and quality of life for residents. 

The idea is simple: Design a home made of cheap, readily-available materials that can be shipped overseas for assembly and mortgage the homes to middle-class families. 

Success has proven more difficult. As he walked around the prototypes Wednesday, Colom pointed out the reason each design was discarded.  

The goal was to find a house that could be built for $62,000 in the United States and built and mortgaged in Africa for around $35,000. But there were setbacks. 

The dome-shaped house was easy to frame and roof but the interior was too expensive. The wire mesh and sprayed concrete house was expensive and required too much equipment and highly-skilled labor. 

These homes will be rented. The latest creation, made entirely of concrete, steel and PVC siding, will be the testing ground for future plans.  

The houses offer a self-sustaining solution utilizing solar and wind power and rainwater collected and transformed into potable water. Someday, wastewater may be transformed into methane gas for cooking. 

A sustainable dream must make economic sense, Colom and Parkinson believe, and they feel they’ve finally hit upon a formula to commercialize the venture and ensure its expansion. 

A helping hand 

Wicker’s role is that of armchair quarterback, public relations liaison, wheel-greaser and granter of wishes. 

For him, it offers an equally appealing promise — the marrying of American jobs and an African growth strategy built upon exports, economic development and global trade competition.  

Colom and Parkinson have not been successful in securing federal funding; instead, the prototypes have been financed privately.  

But Wicker believes he can change that by involving Overseas Product Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  

OPIC, a federal agency, advances U.S. foreign policy by providing investors with financing, bank guarantees, political risk insurance and private equity investment funds, helping U.S. businesses establish themselves overseas in emerging markets. USAID assists foreign countries with social and economic development.  

Together, OPIC and USAID may provide Quality Housing with the push it needs to move from concept to completion. 

But Colom will never truly be finished. He is always scanning the horizon, looking for ways to improve.  

“We want to take this all over east Africa until we drop dead,” Colom said, laughing.  

“I’ve never seen anybody like him,” Parkinson responded, shaking his head.

Carmen K. Sisson covers education, family, health, and community issues. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter at cksDispatch.

Read more: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=18443#ixzz24O5dpKOK

Original Rainwater Pillow installed in new Atlanta restaurant LURE will be the FIRST to flush toilets with rainwater !

ImageThe Fifth Group has made a commitment to help the environment and reduce energy cost by harvesting rainwater in their newest restaurant LURE. The rainwater will be used to flush the low flow toilets in this renovated building in mid-town Atlanta’s new eco district.

Perfect example on utilizing wasted space. The pillow was build to fit the available area in the crawl space under the building.

A 3.000 gallon custom size Original Rainwater Pillow installed in the crawl space of LURE will collect rainwater from the 3,450 sq ft roof. Approximately 2,154 gallons of water will be collected from one inch of rainfall providing an annual collection potential of 108,000 gallons.

State building code requires that the collected rainwater be treated to potable standards. This is achieved through a secondary filtration system.

Lure filters
A 22 gallon per minute pressure pump delivers the stored rainwater through the four stage purification system which consists of a 20 micron filter, 5 micron filter, charcoal block, and UV Light treatment.

Municipal water automatic back up is included in the system for times of extended drought.

A typical restaurant uses a tremendous amount of water making the return on investment for this project very attractive. The constant demand for the harvested rainwater on a daily basis for flushing toilets shortens the system’s payback window.

GreenBuilder magazine recognizes The Original Rainwater Pillow as a Product That Matters in the March EcoLandscaping Guide.

2012 Eco-Friendly Landscaping Roundup

Legitimate “green” landscape products should help homeowners conserve water, spend more time outdoors, or reduce maintenance impacts. Here’s our selection of products that met those criteria at the International Builders’ Show in February – plus some other notable contenders.

Rainwater Pillow


The Original Rainwater Pillow can hold from 1,000 to 200,000 gallons of water (customizable), and is a rainwater harvesting system ideal for irrigation, toilet flushing, stormwater management and fire suppression.



This product comes as a complete system with the pillow, filter, pump, remote control and all the fittings fully automated. It can be placed in wasted horizontal spaces such as a crawlspace or under deck or porch areas.

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