Rain barrels - a new concept for water conservation? No way! The idea of capturing rainwater in cisterns is generations old. Landowners in have used cisterns as a way to collect water for water gardens, plants, washing clothes and even drinking.
A rain barrel is a rainwater harvesting system that is connected to a downspout from a house or building. The average US household uses 146,000 gallons of water per year with up to 50% of that water going towards landscaping during the summer months. By collecting rainwater, one can save energy, water, and money to the tune of $600 a year. Rain barrels also help reduce erosion and stormwater runoff and increase water quality.
How do I set up a Rain Barrel system at my house, school or office? The public has two main options 1) purchase pre-made rain barrels through your local garden store or through an online source or 2) create your own.
Instructions for creating your own rain barrel:
Step 1: Purchase the follow from a store:
- new sturdy trash can
(you can also use 55 gallon food grade plastic drum check your local yellow pages under barrels for a dealer)
- tube of sealant/adhesive caulk
- mesh screen
- mosquito brick
- ½ inch faucet
- down spout flex elbow
- 3 bricks
- 1 inch plug (optional)
Step 2: Drill three holes - two holes near the top of the trashcan/barrelfor overflow and one 6 inches from the bottom The drilled hole should be the same size as your faucet opening (for a ½ inch faucet use a 7/16 drill) (With the barrel, it is recommended you drill a fourth hole at the very bottom to drain the barrel)
Step 3: Screw the faucet into the opening and secure with sealant/adhesive on both sides.
Step 4: In the trash can cover, cut 6x6 inch opening (the hole can be either circular or a square). Cover the opening with mesh screen, secure using the sealant/adhesive caulk.
Step 4A: if you are using a 55 gallon drum cut an opening that is approximately 1/3 the size of top in the top. Cover the opening with mesh screen, secure using the sealant/adhesive caulk.
Step 5: Cut two-pieces of mesh screen slight larger than 1 inch. Using the sealant/adhesive caulk, attach the mesh screen to the overflow hole drilled at the top of the barrel/trash can. (If you drilled a fourth hole on the bottom, put the plug in it)
Step 6: Attach the trash can cover to the can
Step 7: Place the rain barrel on 3 bricks next to the downspout you wish to capture the water from. (This is so you can put a bucket/water pail under the faucet)
Step 8: Cut the downspout to just above the rain barrel
Step 9: Attach the downspout flex elbow to the downspout
Step 10: Slide the rain barrel under the spout lining up the mesh screen opening with the flex elbow. Spray water on the roof and check to make sure the rain barrel and mesh opening are in the right location.
Step 11: Add a mosquito brick monthly and enjoy your new barrel.
Step 12: Optional: paint your rainbarrel using Krylon Fusion paint. Available at most hardware stores and online at Aarons rainbarrels.
Rain Barrel Facts - Aaron's Rain Barrel
Rain Barrel How-To: Learn how to harvest the rain - right from your roof - Gardener's Supply Company
How to use rain barrels for water collection - Rain Barrel Guide