Rain Barrels: A Water Solution

June 19, 20144039215689_762131b598_o

According to the EPA, watering lawns and gardens accounts for 40% of household water consumption in the summer months. Harnessing rainwater, by the use of rain barrels, to sustain water needs throughout the summer could cut that water use completely, saving 1,300 gallons of water a year per home. That kind of conservation not only helps the environment, but your wallet.

Rain barrels collect and store water runoff from roofs during rainstorms by placing them directly underneath rain gutters. This collection of water is great to use to water lawns and gardens, and wash cars and windows, especially in times of drought. The 55-gallon barrel has a screen gate that keeps bugs and other debris out, leaving clean, soft water.

Though rain barrels are generally inexpensive—between $80 to $100—their simplicity makes them an easy DIY project. It is basically just a barrel, vinyl hose, and screen gate. Mother Earth News or other sources, like Pinterest, offer simple steps to help you make your own rain barrel. If DIY isn’t your cup of tea, most hardware stores sell rain barrels as well as specialty stores like Hayneedle. Here you will find many decorative options such as rain barrels that look like terra cotta pots, whiskey barrels, or boulders.

But what happens when you get a big storm and 55 gallons just isn’t enough? It’s a good idea to install an overflow drain near the top and attach an overflow hose to it. This will allow you to divert the excess water to a flowerbed or tree base and keep it away from the foundation of your house.

Another thing to lookout for is state law. As great as rain barrels are, they are not legal in all states. For example, it is illegal to catch rainwater in Colorado without a permit because it is considered stealing another person’s water, according to the Colorado Division of Water Resources. There are also restrictions in Washington state and Utah, but it’s best to just check before purchasing a rain barrel.

It’s been said that wars of the future will be fought over water, let’s do our part now to conserve.

-Malissa Stark

Photo Credit:  Flickr/ Clyde Robinson

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