The Environmental Protection Agency states that lawn and garden watering are nearly 40 percent of total household water use during the summer. Rain barrels provide a consistent supply of clean, fresh water for outdoor use, free of charge.
Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves money and energy by decreasing demand for treated tap water. And diverting water from storm drains also decreases the effects of runoff to streams, preventing pollution and protecting water.
Water collected in a rain barrel would normally pour off your roof directly or flow through roof gutter downspouts and become stormwater runoff. Depending on your yard, this runoff can travel onto paved surfaces and eventually into a storm drain, which drains straight to freshwater bodies like creeks and streams.
Rain barrels are relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and sit conveniently under residential gutter downspouts. A rain barrel is composed of a 55-gallon drum, a vinyl hose, a spigot, PVC couplings and a screen to keep debris and insects out.
Where to buy
Hardware stores and garden centers are likely bets to find parts or whole kits for rain barrels. Nonprofit organizations often sell them, including Bridging the Gap and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in the Kansas City metro area.
The City of Lenexa Parks and Recreation Department and Rain to Recreation program also offer classes on building rain barrels. From these classes, we’ve developed detailed instructions for building and painting rain barrels. Additionally, Lenexa participates in Johnson County’s Stormwater Management Cost Share Program and your rain barrel expense may be eligible for partial reimbursement from that program. The 2016 Cost Share Application will be available in March 2016.
Contact Jenny Doty, Recreation Supervisor, for more information about classes or building your own rain barrel.