Rain Barrel Information

Overview

Rain barrels collect the water that runs off your roof when it rains. Use this free water to water your lawn and garden or wash your car.

Function

A rain barrel is placed at the end of either a gutter or downspout to collect water. A spigot, usually near the bottom of the barrel, allows you to attach a hose.

Features

The barrel itself is often made from recycled plastic. To prevent overflowing, it should have an overflow control valve on top. You may also want a diverter, consisting of a valve and hose, to send excess water into a flower bed and away from your foundation.

Warning

The water collected in a rain barrel is not safe for drinking, cooking or bathing.

Environmental Effects

Up to 40 percent of water in some areas is used for residential irrigation. Much of this water could come from rain barrels. Without a rain barrel, water from roofs becomes runoff and goes into the sewers, ultimately putting unnecessary burdens on waste water management systems.

Considerations

A filter screen over the opening where water comes in will prevent many bugs from getting into your barrel, but use a safe bacteria-based mosquito treatment to prevent your water from becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

References

  • Make Your Own Rain Barrel
Keywords: rain barrel, irrigation, watering gardens

About this Author

Kathryn Keep is an eco consultant and full time mother. She is a graduate student studying ecology. Her favorite topics are environmental issues, alternative health, home decorating, green building and general sustainable living.