Sustainable landscaping returns balance in the water cycle, replenishes ground water, reduces flooding and protects the quality of water. Sustainable societies are those that practice economic and social actions – that meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
It has been estimated that after a rain storm in a forest, the forest has only 10 percent of rain water that becomes surface water runoff. The water evaporates or is absorbed into the earth where it then becomes ground water. Gradually the ground water moves to surface water bodies which provide some base flow. During the summer, residential water consumption can increase 40 to 50 percent because of the outdoor demand on water. Water conservation is important to preserve our fresh water supply. Use a rain barrel to collect storm water runoff for later usage on the lawn and in the garden.
The rain water would normally become storm water runoff and could eventually run into a storm drain. Rain barrels can be arranged to gradually release the collected rain water to areas that are able to use and absorb the water.
What Is A Rain Barrel?
A rain barrel is any container above the ground that receives, stores and spreads the rain water to another area. The typical rain barrel is of 210 litres, with a connection to a down spout, a filter to prevent mosquitoes from entering, a tap for regulated usage and an over flow pipe to detour any excess water.
A 55 gallon rain barrel will only hold 1/2 inch of rain water from a 160 square foot roof. Some people choose to use two rain barrels at one down spout or have another one at a different down spout.
Rain Water And Rain Barrel Safety
Rain water collected in a rain barrel is not considered drinkable water. The water was on the roof and so were birds and maybe other animals. The water can be contaminated with bacteria and other disease causing organisms from bird and animal waste left on the roof.
Rain barrel water is safe to use on flowers, the lawn and non edible plants. Some feel the water is safe to use in a garden as long as you avoid over head irrigation. This would prevent leafy green plants from contamination. But they also say the vegetable isn’t safe to eat unless it is washed thoroughly with clean drinking water.
Rain barrel water should not be used to water the vegetable garden when it is close to harvest time. Personally I would not use rain barrel water in the garden at any time.
Maintenance For A Rain Barrel
- The rain barrel will need to be cleaned once in awhile.
- Use 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice per gallon of water and 2 teaspoons of castile soap.
- Before winter the rain barrel will need to be emptied and disconnected from the down spout then stored.
Why Use A Rain Barrel And Collect Rain Water?
1. A rain barrel will lower your water bills and save you money.
2. A rain barrel will help reduce the demand on the local water supply.
3. During the peak summer months a rain barrel can collect about 1,300 gallons of water, depending on where you live.
4. Rain barrels capture and keep water that can be used later. It is an efficient way to use a free resource.
5. Rain barrels help reduce erosion, storm water flow, pollution and flooding.
5. Rain water is naturally soft and oxygenated with more acidic than tap water. It doesn’t have any chlorine, calcium or lime.
6. Watering plants, washing cars and doing household chores is an ideal way to use rain water.
7. Rain barrels aren’t expensive. They are easy to make and install.