This year, there certainly hasn’t been any shortage of precipitation.  As we see recycling and sustainability start to trend (Hooray!), an easy way to recycle, save money and help minimize storm water runoff is to recycle your rain.

After a large rain event, storm water can become a real problem.  With urban growth and an increase in gray infrastructure (impervious surfaces that rain can’t soak through), we experience more and more storm water runoff.

Did you know that the water that goes into a storm drain does NOT get filtered or cleaned?  It goes directly from there into our rivers, lakes and streams!  This carries many harmful pollutants, such as oil, gasoline, litter, fertilizer and pet waste into our tributaries.

Rain barrels help catch this relatively clean, oxygenated and un-chlorinated water before it becomes runoff pollution.  In turn, using this harvested rain water to hydrate your plants instead of municipal water, can protect your garden and soil community from becoming unbalanced.

Rain Barrel Installation

Photo: University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

Rain barrels can make an impact on reducing your water bills and conserve water in the summer months when it reaches peak demand. They also help manage moisture levels and water pooling on your property. You can even manage where the over flow goes with an overflow valve, which helps to manage the water on your entire property.

Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Kids love painting rain barrels, so get your kids involved to help create some art!

WaterDay

 

Here are a few tips to consider before you begin a rain barrel installation:

  1. Keep your gutters clean!  Not doing so can back up the gutter and cause parts of your roof to be flooded.
  2. Use a screen or gutter filter.  This will minimize the amount of organic matter that gets into your rain barrel.
  3. Secure your opening to prevent algae growth and keep out mosquitoes.  A dark colored barrel is also better than a light colored barrel, which would let more sunlight in and encourage algae production.
  4. Don’t drink the water, but feel free to use it on your plants (even food bearing plants).  Most pollutants that get into the water from the rooftop will be minimal and can be filtered out by the soil.  It would likely run through your yard and into your garden anyway if you didn’t have the barrel.
  5. Use a food grade barrel if choosing to use plastic.  This will minimize the chemical toxins that get into your water when it heats up in the summer months.  Wooden or metal barrels are a good option as well.

 

If you’re ready to install a rain barrel at your home or business, take advantage of the easy set of instructions for getting started provided by The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.  Click here to download a copy of “Building Rain Barrels to Harvest Rain Water“.

Building Rain Barrels to Harvest Rainwater

 

 

Good luck installing your first rain barrel and feel free to contact me at energy@irwp.org with any questions you may have.

Have you installed a rain barrel at your home or business?  We’d love to hear about your project and to share photos of your rain barrel!

 

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Additional Resources:

Visit our Pinterest Rain Barrel board for design ideas!