Water: that precious resource, covering three-quarters of our planet. It’s easy to take it for granted, but now and then we’re reminded of how much we all depend on it – whether by a well that is failing to supply our homes with an adequate supply or by being confronted with the heartbreaking ecological damage caused by a corporate disaster.
Spring and summer gardening often brings a spike to our water usage as we tend to the needs of our gardens and lawns. One easy solution for increasing water conservation while caring for our yards is the use of rain barrels.
By directing your gutters and downspouts into rain barrels, gallons upon gallons of water can be collected from the large amount of rain that pelts your roof, and stored to meet your gardening and non-drinking needs. Once your rain barrel is full, excess water is diverted away from your foundation if you installed overflow hose. Depending on the size of your rain barrel, you can collect less than 50 gallons or well over 100. Rain barrels can also be connected and used for outbuildings, in addition to your house, increasing the amount of water collected.
Do not collect rainwater for drinking without finding out if it’s legal to do so in your area. If you are zoned for drinking collected rainwater, you must be sure to cover and protect your system in order to remove contaminants
Varying designs are featured at a number of gardening supply stores, with a wider array available online. Models with a tap make it easy to access the water. Several online resources are listed below. If you’re a DIY’er, kits are available from sites such as kentuckybarrels.com.
Should you decide to ramp up your collection of rainwater, the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, arcsa.org, can provide information on creating a more elaborate catchment system.