Using Rain Barrels to Conserve Water


There are many reasons to use rain barrels to conserve water. During the summer 40% of household water is used to water outside lawns and gardens. For this reason, it is imperative to set up a system of rain barrels. This can also greatly lower water bills, if you use municipal water.

Rain barrels catch the roof run-off. This water is chemical-free for the most part. The initial run-off may contain substances from your roof, depending on when it last rained and on what your roof is made of. Some systems can be set up to divert the initial rainwater run-off that may be more toxic.

(Some roofs have materials that make it unsafe to use the rainwater run-off.) Rainwater is more acidic, so it is more easily absorbed by the soil. It contains many nutrients and less salt than tap water. Tap water contains chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride that can cause imbalances in the soil and damage some plants.

Catching the rainwater in rain barrels and diverting it to your lawn and gardens relieves the burden on city sewers, nearby waterways and the municipal water supply. It also produces healthier water, since the water percolates down through the soil. The soil filters and cleans this water before it reaches the aquifer. In addition, it helps to minimize any erosion, especially during heavy rains. (Using native plants in your gardens and creating a rain garden are ways to further enable the absorption of water into the soil.)

What Does a Rain Barrels Consist of?

- System that funnels the rainwater into the rain barrel

- An overflow system that diverts the water away from the rain barrel to a garden or lawn area or returns the water back to the downspout

- A 50 gallon plastic food grade drum that light can't pass through so that bacteria and algae won't grow

- A hose and couplings

- A secure cover to keep out insects, critters, pets and for child safety

- A screen or filter to keep out debris

Other Pointers

- Some are square-shaped to more snugly fit against the edge of the house

- Diverting the run-off water from the house is important, so as to not create water damage to the house

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