Rain Barrel Facts


Rain barrels collect the water from roofs through downspouts. They consist of a water storage container, an overflow, a debris-screening filter and a distribution apparatus. A downspout diverter redirects the water into the rain barrel.


Rain barrels come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 30 to 80 gallons. The materials usually consist of plastic, polyethylene or metal.


Use water collected in a barrel for plants, garden or lawn. Other uses include washing cars and windows, and filling pools and ponds. Do not drink the water because of possible contamination.

Environmental Benefits

Diverting downspouts into a water storage container prevents overflow from going into often outdated and overwhelmed storm-water sewer systems and prevents pollution from entering nearby bodies of water. The use of rain barrels conserves water in areas with low rainfall.

Economic Benefits

Watering a lawn and garden in the summer months comprises as much as 40 percent of household water use. A rain barrel saves money by providing free water, reducing your monthly utility bill.


Mosquitoes, algae and bacteria breed in standing water, so cover the barrel and use the water at least once a week.


  • Purdue University
  • Environmental Protection Agency

Who Can Help

  • How to make a rain barrel
  • Gardener's supplies
Keywords: rain barrel, water storage container, downspout diverter

About this Author

Kit Arbuckle is a freelance writer specializing in topics such as health, alternative medicine, beauty, senior care, pets and landscaping. She has training in landscaping and a certification in medicinal herbs from a botanical sanctuary.