Rain Barrels 101

Posted Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What is a rain barrel? A rain barrel is a container that collects and stores rainwater from downspouts and rooftops for future use watering lawns and gardens.

Generally a rain barrel is made using a 55-gallon drum, a vinyl garden hose, couplings, a screen grate to remove debris and keep insects out, and other materials found at most hardware stores.

Rain barrels can be constructed in a number of ways, but they all serve the same purpose — to collect rainwater and decrease the amount of stormwater runoff that leaves your property. Using rain barrels is one way to decrease your household’s impact on local waterways and to become a good steward of the local watershed.

 

Why use rain barrels?

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During the summer months it is estimated that nearly 40 percent of household water is used for lawn and garden maintenance. A rain barrel collects water and stores it for those times that you need it most — during the dry summer months. Using rain barrels potentially helps homeowners lower water bills, while also improving the vitality of plants, flowers, trees, and lawns.

The average rainfall of one inch within a 24-hour period can produce more than 700 gallons of water that runs off the roof of a typical house.

Much of this water runs from gutters onto surfaces that do not allow water to soak into the ground. These are called impervious surfaces and include concrete, asphalt, and compacted soil. Even commonly used sod has a very low infiltration rate and can be a major cause of increased runoff.

As it flows, runoff collects and transports soil, pet waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, litter and other pollutants. This water drains directly into nearby creeks, streams and rivers, without receiving treatment at sewage plants.

Polluted stormwater contaminates local waterways. It can harm plants, fish and wildlife, while degrading the quality of water.

 

Learn more

Skagit PUD offers rain barrel workshops throughout the year. If you would like to be contacted about upcoming rain barrel workshops, please take our  Online Rain Barrel Survey or call (360) 848-4477.

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