Spring typically brings the rain needed to maintain healthy vegetation throughout the summer, so I thought it would be a good time to discuss home storm water management. Home storm water management through the use of rain barrels provides a water source for those thirsty planters and gardens and for our newly planted native plants without having to draw from our potable water supply.
Water caught from our house’s rain gutters into barrels is relatively clean and chemical free. Years ago, our ancestors harvested rain water for household use by collecting it into large stone cisterns or holding areas in their basements. Water was then pumped for use by a hand pump, although it typically wasn’t used for drinking water.
With just 1 inch of rain, a 1,000-square-foot roof can capture up to 600 gallons of water. At the WILD Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, the average rainfall is around 23″ from April to November. This could equate to around 14,000 gallons of rainwater that could be collected.
Today, the practice of rain harvesting has pretty much been forgotten, and in its place a modern infrastructure to transport water to urban and suburban locations. But rain barrels still have their place. You can make a rain barrel or buy one. Ready-made rain barrels are available at local hardware stores, garden centers and the Internet. You can sign-up for a local rain barrel workshop and pay for the materials and get free instruction to build one. Or, you can find a “how-to” webpage on the Internet and try to construct one on your own.
Typically, rainwater that goes into our community storm sewer systems goes directly to our lakes and rivers. By using rain barrels, we help protect the environment by reducing storm water runoff that would otherwise cause erosion and carry pollutants into our lakes and streams. That along with providing a free source of water for watering your garden and other plants, for washing cars and cleaning windows, or for bathing water for the birds — it’s a win, win situation!
Home water management is easy and fun to do using rain barrels.
From Rain Barrels to Rain Gardens by Lorrie Otto
Home Water Management using Rain Barrels by Donna VanBuecken
Rain Water Harvesting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)