Rain Barrels

Aaron's Rain Barrels, 2004
Source: Aaron's Rain Barrels, 2004

A rain barrel is a rainwater harvesting system that is connected to a downspout from a house or building. Rain barrels capture runoff rainwater from a roof and store it in a tank for later use. Using collected rainwater to water lawns, gardens, or indoor plants is cost effective, and beneficial for the environment.

The average US family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day. Of that, 30% is used for outdoor purposes, with higher percentages in drier regions. By collecting rainwater, you can save energy, water, and money.

Additionally, rain barrels help improve water quality by reducing stormwater runoff and erosion. Urban runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs and sidewalks can carry pollutants into our waterways. Heavy rain events can increase runoff, intensifying stream flows and eroding stream banks. Collecting rainwater from roofs reduces the influx of runoff and amount of potential pollutants into our creeks and streams.

Rain barrels can be installed at your home, school or office. Pre-made rain barrels may be purchased at your local garden store or an online source, or you can build your own. Contact your local water authority to learn if a rain barrel workshop is offered in your area.