Recently, I went to a “talk” about the use of rain barrels and rainwater harvesting.
I think the number mentioned – that really hit home – was a reminder that only 2% of the earth’s water is fresh, and 1/2 of that, is frozen. When it rains on our cities, whoosh, most of that fresh (and probably now polluted) water runs off into a storm drain and right out to sea.
The two biggest problems with this system are the loss of all that fresh water and all that now polluted water heading directly into our streams, lakes, bays and oceans.
Why Installing a Rain Barrel is a Helpful Solution?
Prior to attending this lecture, my thought was, “what use is a 50 gallon rain barrel to me when it doesn’t usually rain here from May through October?” Certainly 50 gallons isn’t going to last very long, if you’re planning to water your garden, and it doesn’t rain when you need the water most. (If you have the space and can connect up several larger tanks, that could work). But, as was explained:
The barrel, which captures water from your home’s roof, is hooked up to a run off system. During the heavy part of the rainy season, it can be left open, allowing water to flow out to a rain garden, permeate into the ground, and not down a storm sewer.
So – after filtering through plants and soil – the water is cleaned of pollutants and ground water is replenished.
**There’s a good selection of rain barrels at amazon. Here’s my link to a selection of 50 gallon barrels in case you’re looking. Best selling ones cost from $100 to $200. 🙂
Here in San Francisco, the San Francisco Public Utilities liked the idea so much, they were giving away free rain barrels for a while.
Here’s a look at how a Rain Garden Works…
So, if setting up a rain barrel interests you, here are some things to think about:
Rain Barrel – FYI
1. You’ll need to check-in with state and federal regulations regarding your barrel’s installation.
2. A permit may necessary (check locally) before setting up your rain barrel.
3. Rain barrel needs to be secured (using similar straps securing hot water tanks).
4. You need to apply rainwater harvesting safety labels to the barrel’s outside.
5. You’ll need a flat and shady area to store the barrel.
ps: The People’s Garden (USDA) has a great little video on how rain barrels work:
pps: Note – Winter 2017 was one of the wettest/snowiest on record for California, and most of the West coast. But, hopefully, we will remember that this bout of wet weather is cyclical – and very soon goes back to drought-dry. Conversely, much of the East coast had a very dry fall and winter; and Chicago had no recorded snowfall for either January or February of 2017.