Rain barrels offer rural and city dwellers perhaps the best opportunity to make the most of one of nature's best bargains - pure, soft, rain water. A rain barrel is the largest component of a system designed to collect and store the rain water from your roof – water which is normally diverted to storm drains, lost to evaporation, or restricted to the immediate ground area under and around your downspout.
How it Works:
The most basic rain barrel setup requires a storage tank (rain barrel), a secure lid, and a spigot or drain valve. Water flows off of the roof into the gutter, then enters the downspout and pours through the lid of the water barrel
. Collected rainwater can then be retrieved directly from the spigot at the bottom of the rain water barrel, or a garden hose can be attached by which the water can be directed to the desired location. Rain barrels are highly effective. During a normal rainfall season, an average residential roof generates about 30,000 gallons of rainfall runoff for potential harvesting.
Roof-harvested rainwater is free and can be used for many purposes - from watering lawns and gardens to washing cars. By using a system of micro filters, chlorine, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet purification, rooftop run-off water can even be rendered drinkable. However, it's always best to seek professional advice before attempting to purify your own drinking water.
Although the most common plastic rain barrel size is 55 gallons, residential storage units range from small 15 gallon models to larger commercial sizes designed to hold up to 1,000 gallons. Some modular cisterns designed for larger
agricultural and industrial operations have even greater storage capacities. Getting started with your own rain harvesting system is easy. You can begin by visiting local businesses (organic garden suppliers, hardware stores, home improvement stores, lawn-and-garden centers, etc.) or on-line rain barrel suppliers – such as this site.