Got Rain? Recycle it!

By Paula Detwiller

Now that the rainy season’s here, have you thought about capturing some of that rainwater and using it around the yard? It’s a great way to conserve tap water while hydrating your plants with heaven-sent moisture. It also reduces storm water runoff, keeping fertilizers, street oils, and other pollutants from washing into our waterways.

A good, old-fashioned rain barrel is the best way to recycle the rain. You can buy them at the big-box hardware stores, or you can save money and make your own! All you need is a heavy-duty plastic container, a few extra parts, and the right tools.

 

Make Your Own Rain Barrel

First you’ll need to find a heavy plastic food-grade barrel. Check with local food service businesses for drums used to transport olives, pickles, and juices. Commercial car washes are another source; they get liquid soap in large barrels. Be sure to wash and rinse the inside of your recycled barrel thoroughly.

Next you install a spigot in the barrel, build a platform for easy access to the spigot, and reconfigure your gutter downspout to funnel rainwater into the barrel. Watch the step-by-step process in this short video from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and for even more details, download the District’s free booklet.

Rain can accumulate fast in a state like Florida: officials estimate that a typical half-inch rainfall will fill a 50-gallon barrel. So it’s a good idea to put an overflow outlet or pipe near the top of your rain barrel, and perhaps divert the overflow to a second container.

Why Conserve Water?

Even though we live in one of the wettest states in the U.S., we still need to conserve water. That’s because most of the water we use comes from beneath the ground. Using more groundwater than Nature can put in creates a host of environmental problems, from declining lake levels to sinkholes to saltwater intrusion.

What are you doing to conserve our precious groundwater? We’d love to hear about it. Leave your answers in the comments!

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