Make a Rain Barrel to Celebrate Water Week

Just a single inch of rain falling on 1,000 square feet of roof can yield 600 gallons of water, but most of us just watch it wash away.

But you don’t have to let this free water run away. Get (or make) a rain barrel! Rain barrels are containers or systems that collect and store rain water from rooftops for later use.

Join our partners at the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Office on Monday, March 20, 2017 or at Kentucky State University on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 to create your own rain barrel.

More information about these workshops, including registration info, is available at http://water.ky.gov/watershed/Documents/WaterWeek2017/07%20Events%20Calendar%20and%20Descript%20NP.pdf

Rain barrels can be fun to make and can serve as important sources of  water for yard work.

Without a rain barrel, water from your rooftop would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams. Runoff can pick up pollution that is on the land surface (litter, manure, chemicals, fertilizers, etc.) and send it to storm drains or directly into streams.

Runoff that enters storm drains then flows untreated into local streams we use for swimming, fishing, boating, and isn’t good for the things that live in the water or depend on it for food.

Besides preventing pollution, rain barrels also have many other benefits – they conserve water and save us money!

Lawn and garden watering makes up nearly 40 percent of total household water use during the summer. Rainwater used from rain barrels helps reduce the amount of water used from local sources.

A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy. The water from a rain barrel is also naturally soft, and doesn’t contain minerals, chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals. Plants respond well to this; after all, it’s what plants in the wild thrive on!

Rain barrels are even more important in dense urban areas. The hard surfaces of a city block can generate five times more runoff than a wooded area of the same size.

As we increase the amount of hard surfaces that don’t allow water to soak into the ground, such as driveways, sidewalks and streets, more water runs off the land surface. Because less water is soaking into the ground, underground water supplies are not replenished.

This increased runoff also leads to more frequent flood events, as there is less area for rainfall or snowmelt to soak into the ground. Not only do these flood events occur more frequently, they are often more catastrophic. Increased runoff also leads increased erosion of stream banks because the velocity of water flowing through streams is greater. This causes more dirt to enter our streams, clogging habitat for aquatic life and making it different for animals to survive.

Collecting rainwater in rain barrels is super cheap and easy! Rain barrels can range in size from 30 gallon to 100 gallon containers and can be plastic or wood. Rain barrels can be purchased or made by upcycling any large container capable of holding water.

Rain barrels can also be pretty! The barrels pictured in this article were painted by local artists as part of the Bluegrass Greensource yearly Roll Out the Rain Barrels campaign.  Installing them is easy and requires no special tools to set up at your business, home, or school.

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