Benefits of a Rain Barrel
Rain barrels are used for the collection and storage of rainwater from rooftops by capturing water from a downspout. The water collected in a rain barrel may then be used at a later time for watering plants, lawns, and gardens. This technique of rainwater harvesting is greener and cheaper alternative to using tap water. Rain water is also better for plants than tap water because it is highly oxygenated and free of salts and minerals. In addition to being an effective best management practice (BMP), rain barrels introduce water conservation and educational opportunities regarding the amount of stormwater that is shed from impervious surfaces. This practice is a quick and easy way to improve water quality and reduce stormwater runoff.
Rainwater harvesting can be as easy as leaving out barrels or cisterns under downspouts to hold water from rain events for later use but commercially designed rain barrels are designed specifically for this purpose. A barrel purchased from a retailer will be designed with a food grade plastic exterior to provide protection from weather and ultra-violet light and include a spout to regulate water outflow for water cans or hoses, an overflow drain to release excess water from heavy rain events, and screening to keep debris and yard material out of the barrel. If you have the time and want to save on the expense of purchasing a preassembled rain barrel, a do-it-yourself rain barrel can be easily assembled at a fraction of the cost.
Adopting the practice of rain harvesting and incorporating it into your seasonal lawn care routine has many benefits. Please consider the firsthand accounts of two local residents as they share their story on the use of rain barrels in their own yards.
Loren Lown is a Pleasant Hill resident and a proud owner of a rain barrel. Loren purchased his rain barrel nearly two years ago through the City’s reimbursement program. This program provides residents reimbursement for the installation of a rain barrel up to 50 percent or $75, whichever is the lesser value.
“Having the rain barrel allows the rain to be stored until we are ready to use it,” said Loren. “Rain water does not have any minerals or calcium, which is much better for our house plants because it limits the calcium and salt buildup in the soil. There is ample supply of water in our rain barrel with the recent rains we have had. It makes our plants happy and I certainly hope this continues into summer.”
Loren enjoys his rain barrel so much that he is thinking about installing another one.
Mark Ackelson was the first resident of Pleasant Hill to take advantage of the rain barrel reimbursement program in July 2015. Mark is glad he installed a rain barrel because it helps with drainage issues and run off on his property.
“Using the rain water to water our indoor plants and garden provides better nutrients,” said Ackelson. “The rain barrel has a screen so leaves and granules from the singles do not get into the water. The water is clean and doesn’t have the chlorine it in like our tap water so plants are much happier.”
Residents installing a rain barrel need to ensure they drain it properly just like they do their garden hoses before winter sets in. This will ensure the longevity of their rain barrel.
The rain barrel reimbursement program is limited to one per address. Visit pleasanthilliowa.org/rainbarrel for more information.
Rain Barrel ResourcesYou can learn more about rain barrels and rain harvesting at Rainscaping Iowa or from any of the following helpful resources:
Rain Barrels Iowa
The Great American Rain Barrel Company
Iowa DNR - How to Build Your Own Rain Barrel