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Learn to Conserve
Rainwater Harvesting With Rain Barrels
Water management and conservation is important to protect our fresh water supply and harvesting rainwater with rain barrels is an easy, effective and inexpensive way to start. Rain barrels conserve water, help lower costs on water bills and reduce pollution from storm water runoff by collecting and storing rainwater from rooftops.
Harvested rainwater is guilt-free 'soft water' to homeowners, containing no chlorine, lime or calcium making it ideal for gardens, flower pots, yards, and car and window washing. We use about 40% of our household water for outdoor use in the summertime and harvested water can be used during dry periods, saving money and helping the environment!
A lot of water comes off of a roof when it rains. During a 1-inch rain, 600 gallons of water can be collected from a downspout that services a 1,000 square feet of roof area. Most rain barrels can hold between 30-75 gallons, depending on their size. Barrels that are built correctly have a screened louver vent to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and overflow hose connections to direct excess water away from your house in case of a heavy rain. You can also hook up a series of rain barrels that empty into one another, with the last one overflowing through an overflow hose.
Elevating your water barrel on cinder blocks or a stand improves the gravity fed water flow and makes accessing the water and soaker hose hook-up easier. If you do elevate, make sure everything is level, stable, and secure. A full rain water barrel may weigh more than 300 lbs.
If the slope from your home to your garden is minimal or you want faster watering than a soaker hose application, you can try using a portable sump pump in the rain barrel connected to a sprinkler. Be careful! A pump can empty your barrel pretty quickly and needs water to operate. You don’t want to burn it up in a dry barrel!