News Column

Earth Day Project: Save the Rain

April 20, 2013
Earth Day Project

In honor of Earth Day 2013, here is a way you can do your part.

Here are directions to make your own rain barrel.

Save the rain for a sunny day.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a container used to collect and store rainwater that would otherwise be lost to runoff and likely diverted to a storm drain. Collected water then may be used to water lawns and gardens. Rainwater can be harvested in many ways. The system described here is just one way to capture rainwater for usage in your yard.

Why use a rain barrel?

WATER CONSERVATION -- Approximately 60 percent of our municipal water supply goes directly to watering our lawns. By using rain barrels, you lessen the amount of water flowing into our storm drains, sewer systems, and ultimately local waterways. This water then can be used during hot or dry spells to water your garden.

PROTECTION OF LOCAL WATERSHEDS -- Seventy million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns each year, contaminating storm water (rainwater) runoff. Fertilizers and pesticides are the primary source of water pollution. By collecting rain water, you prevent that runoff from picking up and carrying these harmful pollutants into our local waterways.

NATURAL GARDENING -- Using rainwater to water your garden is natural and healthy.

Plants and beneficial microbes like rainwater because it is naturally soft -- free of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals.


Will my rain barrel attract mosquitoes? No. This type of rain barrel is a closed water system and there is consequently no standing water in which mosquitoes can breed. Open systems may require frequent monitoring and treatment.

Can I add a second (or third) barrel to the same system? Yes. Simply drill a hole at the bottom of your first barrel and at the bottom of your second barrel. Thread each hole with the pipe tap, wrap the ends of the hose barbs with Teflon tape and insert into the holes. Connect the bottom of the barrels with a small hose, making sure the connection is taut and secure. You can hook up as many barrels as you like and harvest all the rainwater you like!

Can I paint my barrel? YES! There are several paint types that will adhere to plastic. Ask at your local hardware store.

Can I drink the water from my rain barrel? NO! The water that falls into your barrel is not potable for humans or animals. It will have run over your roof and down your downspout -- only plants and grass like this water.

Can I put a rain barrel on my house or garage? We encourage you to check with your local city hall if they have any restrictions about cutting your downspout. Be sure to tell them you are diverting the rainwater, not disconnecting your downspout. With a diverter, once the barrel fills up, the water goes back into the downspout.

How do I make and install a rain barrel?

You will need the following supplies. Keep in mind you always can borrow a drill (and bit) and a pipe tap from a friend, as these items are expensive. Barrels can be found at recycling centers or at container retailers.


55-gallon barrel (make sure it is cleaned thoroughly).

15/16-inch drill bit and drill.

3/4-inch pipe tap (these are about $25 and can be found at hardware stores -- see if you can borrow one from someone instead of buying one).

3/4-inch male spigot (boiler drain).

3/4-inch thread (male) to 1/2-inch hose connection hose barb.

Teflon tape.


With a 15/16-inch drill bit, drill one hole near the bottom of barrel for the spigot (boiler drain). Drill a second hole near the top of the barrel for the

hose barb (keep in mind which side you want the hole on to connect to diverter from downspout). Thread both holes with 3/4-inch pipe tap

Wrap threaded ends of spigot and hose barb with Teflon tape and insert into appropriate holes

You will need to elevate your rain barrel for several reasons: 1) the higher you put it, the better pressure you will get; 2) putting your rain barrel on stable ground and elevated will prevent it from sinking into the ground. A filled barrel will weigh more than 400 pounds. Cinder blocks work well to elevate barrels.

Downspout Diverter:

There are several different diverters you can use to get the water from your downspout over to your barrel. Check out or for details.


In the winter, be sure to empty out and store your rain barrel in a basement, garage, etc. If you don't have a place to store it, you can leave it outside, just be sure to turn it upside down. If you use the diverter from, you will need to get a flexible downspout piece to connect the space on your downspout where the diverter was hooked up. These are inexpensive and can be found at any hardware store. If you use the diverter from, the diverter can stay on your downspout and be plugged with the plug provided.

Encourage your neighbors and friends to install rain barrels.

We are all a part of conservation.

Harvest rainwater.


(c)2013 the Norwalk Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio)

Visit the Norwalk Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) at

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Source: Copyright Norwalk Reflector (OH) 2013

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