Wine Barrel Rain Barrel

  Runoff Busters

OCT5Many people are missing out on collecting a valuable resource that is literally falling out of the sky- water. It’s a bit staggering how much falls on your roof and flows down your gutters.  For instance, if you live in a modest-sized house with 800 square feet of roof, for every quarter inch of rain 125 gallons of water will wash off your roof!

Let’s crunch a few more numbers – each Spring and Summer in Richmond, Virginia, about 24 inches of rain falls. Using our same house from the previous example, this means that 12,000 gallons of water is flowing off the roof and down the gutter. Oh, and take a peek outside – see all those other houses? That’s 12,000 gallons here and another 12,000 gallons there . . . it all adds up pretty quickly.

Out of sight does not mean out of mind – or out of the watershed. As rainwater flows down the gutters to your yard and driveway, it picks up fertilizer, oil, pet waste, and sediment. These pollutants all wash down your storm drain and head straight for your local streams, creeks, and rivers (and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay).

So what can we do to prevent runoff from going down the drain and directly entering the watershed? One of the easiest ways to capture rainwater and reduce runoff is by installing a rain barrel at one or more of the downspouts connected to your gutters.

OCT4Unlike what comes out of your tap, this water is 100% free and has no added chlorine from city water or salt from your home water softener- making it easy on your wallet as well as on the environment. Between rainstorms, the collected water can be used for gardening, washing your car, and so much more.

Some people might be thinking, “I’m not sure I want a big plastic barrel in my yard”. A stylish and attractive solution is to recycle an old wine barrel into a rain barrel.  Vineyards cycle through their stocks of wine barrels every few years.  If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you contact a local vineyard to see if they have any used barrels for sale. With a few tools, in one afternoon you can transform your wine barrel into a rain barrel. Plenty of websites offer kits with everything you need and simple instructions. Or, if you find yourself in the not-so-handy camp, there are companies online that offer already-converted wine barrels for sale.

Whichever method you choose, you’ll end up with a barrel that enhances the look of your house and garden, reduces your water bills, and helps protect the environment.

For more information, visit:

BMPs: Rain Barrels (via Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay)

Water Harvesting with Rain Barrels: Why & How (via Cumberland County Conservation District)

Harvesting Rainwater with Rain Barrels (via Rain Barrel Guide)