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Rain Barrels Are a Great Way to Save Money and Lessen Your h2o Footprint
By Grow and Make Editor Chris Clark
There are many ways to save water, but not a lot to harvest. We have rain barrel fever at my house. We got one rain barrel and it filled up so fast in the first rainstorm we had that we needed another one. Those filled up so fast the next time we bought three. Now we’re trying to figure out where to put more barrels or how to put in a larger rain harvesting system.
Why are we so excited? For one thing, we’re on city water and we have a large vegetable garden, smaller herb garden and lots of landscaping. No matter how much drought tolerant landscaping we do, the tomatoes and cucumbers still demand water. And drought tolerant doesn’t mean drought-proof for other plants, especially when they are first planted. So, the more water we use, the higher our water bill becomes.
Right now we have five barrels which hold 275 gallons of water. This keeps our vegetable garden going for about 10 days. If we had a drip irrigation system that easily worked with our rain barrels it might last longer but so far we are just using a watering can.
There are many other benefits of using rain barrels beyond saving on your water bill. You won’t be watering your plants with fluoride and chlorine that has been added to your tap water. If you live in an area with storm drains you will also help to lessen the load on the drains during storms. Considering that residential irrigation can account for up to 40% of water usage in the summer, having a rain harvesting system will help to reduce demand on the municipal system.
If you live in an area prone to severe drought you can also consider buying a very good water filter so you could filter water from rain barrels for household purposes in an emergency. Of course, you’d have to make sure you had a large storage capacity so you wouldn’t run out before that emergency.
There are several ways to go about setting up a rain harvesting system at home. You can purchase ready-made rain barrels and rain barrel kits and have them set up in under an hour. If you can find a good source of sturdy, clean barrels, you can make your own rain barrel as well. The internet is full of tutorials on how to do this. The biggest thing to remember is that most barrels will need some type of stand so that the spigot is high enough to fit a bucket or watering can under it. You can also look into connecting a hose ordrip irrigation system to the barrel, but you may not be able to achieve good water pressure from a hose. What you do really depends on what you will use the water for. Just make sure that if you build a stand it is sturdy enough to hold the barrel. Water weighs around 9 pounds per gallon so your stand will have to hold 500 pounds or more depending on the size of the barrel.
Spring is a great time for rain storms so if you’d like to try rain water harvesting you might want to get started soon!
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