Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rain barrel rebates are available

I am lucky to live in a city that aims to be green, and offers incentives to residents who make an effort to be as well. Recently, our city started a program with a mission to "help residential
property owners improve stormwater runoff conditions on their property by installing
more natural drainage projects. These projects are designed to reduce the amount of
stormwater entering local streams, increase groundwater supply, and reduce chemical
and nutrient pollutants entering waterways."

One way residents are encouraged to help is by installing rain barrels. The city believes that installing rain barrels offers "benefits to each homeowner as well as the environment. For example, a homeowner may reduce the risk of flooding in his backyard or basement by collecting water for later use or slow release. Additionally, using water collected in rain barrels to wash cars and maintain landscaping will conserve water and lower your municipal water bill."

A nice financial incentive is offered as a part of this program - a $50 rebate on the purchase of the rain barrel. Very enticing to me since I recently installed one and paid quite a bit more than that. Here's how my rain barrel works: A spout diverts rain into the barrel. You can barely make out this spout behind the clematis, sitting on the black rim of the barrel. It fills up completely during a steady rain. I will use this rain water to water my vegetables, flower boxes, containers, and any new perennials throughout the week. Just as the barrel empties, we get another rain. Since I have installed my rain barrel, I have almost NEVER used the hose - a benefit since I am saving money on my water bill, confident my vegetables are not being watered by a hose that may potentially leach lead, and using the rain water that would have gone down the drain anyway. Any way that I can reduce any type of waste makes me feel good and responsible inside. An interesting plus is that the water sometimes STILL smells like the peppers this old Greek pepper barrel used to contain! To ward off mosquito larva, I use natural disks that kill larva. Behind the clematis on the downspout, is a Y-shaped connector with a switch I can use to divert water to the barrel or down the spout. I will use this if we have torrential downpours. Once the barrel fills, I'll flick the switch so that the rain is diverted to the downspout instead of the barrel. This will help prevent floods close to my house. Another option would be to install more rain barrels connected by hoses. This will increase your rain saving capacity.

Here's the frustrating part about my city's rebate program- because there's always a frustrating part when you're dealing with the government, right? In order to claim a rebate from the city, residents have to fill out and submit an application, purchase an "approved" rain barrel, install it properly, have an inspection conducted by city staff to ensure it is installed properly (honestly, it's not rocket science), and finally receive a rebate.

Forget about the rebate if you're ahead of the curve and already have a rain barrel installed. You can just pat yourself on the back and continue to be a shining example to the rest of your community. You'll just have to fight that feeling that you've purchased something only to find it on sale the next week - no price adjustment option.

If you have NOT yet installed a rain barrel, please check with your city or county. A rebate may be offered. Workshops on making your own rain barrel may be offered. If not, consider installing one anyhow. You will be stunned that you ever stood there in front of your garden, hose in hand, watering your plants.


  1. That's a sweet looking rain barrel!!!

    One of mine is a $13 trash can with the down spout running into it, no lid, no overflow, no spigot, nothing. But it works. My other rain barrel is a 50 gallon drum from ... are you ready for this... pesticide. :( I got it from a friend who had used it for a couple years, so I knew there was no residue left, and really it's the sturdiest plastic I could ask for.

  2. I'm glad you mentioned this Melanie b/c a rain barrel really can be any container that will hold rain. My friend Grace has a barrel that sounds similar to your trash can set up. Simple container. She liked the spigot on mine and had her husband install one. Though it looks cool, she finds the slow water drip frustrating and prefers to dunk a watering can in the top like she originally did.


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