An inch of rain falling on a roof of 1,000 square feet yields over 500 gallons of water. Where that water goes makes a difference to building foundations, to thirsty plants during dry spells and for groundwater recharge. Rather than channeling the water through downspouts onto lawns or into storm drains or roadside ditches, a catchment system such as a rain barrel or rain garden lets you make use of the gift of water. The runoff collected from rooftops is ideal for lawns, gardens and car washing because it has no chlorine residue and little sediment or dissolved minerals. Water-wise gardeners capture rain and keep it safely on the property with rain barrels and rain gardens. These systems for harvesting rain help sustain plants during short droughts, save you money on water bills and reduce the stress on public water systems. For people with private drinking water wells, rain gardens are a simple but attractive way to recharge their ground water and minimize dry well occurrences. Rain barrels and rain gardens help reduce peak discharge that contributes to flooding..
Rain barrels, once common generations ago, are re-appearing as catchments underneath gutter downspouts. They can easily be added to an existing site. A ready-made barrel can be purchased for $100-$150 and the components purchased for less. If constructing your own, look for food-grade barrels to ensure it has not held chemicals that might contaminate the environment. Color does not matter; however, plastic barrels that transmit light will invite algae growth. When planned for during remodeling or new construction design, rain barrels can be made to blend into the structure.
Last updated September 12, 2016