Monday, December 22, 2008

Rain Barrels Help Save The Planet

More and more people are returning to the use of rain barrels. The most likely reasons for this are drought situations occurring in many parts of the country as well as an increasing awareness of the need for water conservation in general.

The drivers that make people choose to collect rainwater vary. Many see it as the answer to maintaining green lawns and healthy gardens despite watering restrictions in water poor cities and towns. Others turn to rain barrels to keep their water bills down. Water routed from rain barrels and cisterns can be used, not only for watering plants and grass, but for washing, bathing and mostly any water use other than consumption or cooking.

Many people concerned with conservation and maintaining green lifestyles use rain barrels with water conservation as their primary goal.

Rain barrels can be purchased commercially or made from recycled wooden or plastic storage barrels. Regardless of the source of your barrel, you will need the following basics:
Rain gutter and downspout
Barrel or other large container
Screen to block leaves and twigs, etc.
4. Tight fitting lid
5. Distribution device

Your existing rain gutters will take care of the first item needed. If not, installing them will be an important first step. A downspout will divert the rainwater into the waiting container. Materials commonly used for rain barrels are plastic or wood, and although they can be purchased new, recycled barrels are available. If a recycled barrel is used, make sure you know what the barrel has stored in the past to avoid tainting the water with harmful residues. Childproof your rain barrels with tight fitting lids. Rain barrels need a distribution outlet in the form of a spout with a valve or a piece of hose. A benefit of harvesting rainwater is that it has no chlorine or other chemicals which makes it healthy for plants. Recycling rainwater rather than using potable supplies for watering lawns and plants reduces the stress on water supplies to municipalities. Also, when rain fills the drains and gutters, it mixes with wastewater and runs off into rivers and streams. Natural drainage through the soil and rock bed purifies the water before it reenters the ecosystem.

On a personal level, using rain barrels to collect and store rainwater helps your wallet as well as your plants. It is also good for the environment by reducing consumption and improving the quality of our natural water supplies.

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