Thursday, August 21, 2008

Small Scale Rain Barrel

Water, especially when you live in an arid climate, is a precious resource. Before we started looking at houses I envisioned a rain barrel sitting along the back of the house, catching our intermittent rainwater. For those of you that aren't familiar, this is a barrel that collects water from your downspout systems. Your entire roof serves as a catchment surface and you get free (and non chlorinated) water to use in a garden, on a lawn, or whatever else you need.

The problem- commercial rain barrels are expensive. We're talking $100-200. There are plenty of instructions on how to create your own rain barrel, but they require tools and time that we just don't have at the moment.

My small scale, free, approach is to use 5 gallon plastic white buckets to catch rain. I get these for free at my local grocery store's bakery. They wash out the icing buckets for me and then I give them another wash at home. When I know it's going to rain (if we're getting rain the newscasters practically dance on their desks) I put the buckets in the yard open. When it's finished raining I close them up and the use to fill my watering vessels.

While 5 gallons isn't as great as say 55, it's working for now and every little bit helps.


Joy said...

I LOVE this tip! We'd have to adapt our downspout system to add a rain barrel, and while it would be ideal, we haven't had the time or energy to tackle it after chasing our toddler all day. It's calling for rain today and I plan on plopping our buckets out right now! Thanks for joining Thrifty Green Thursday this week!

Mr. (not) the Jet Set said...

Forget the rainwater collection - you get 5 gal buckets for free!? That's awesome! How did you find out about that?

Thanks for the link, btw. Our tutorial has been extremely popular and, to date, over 100 people have downloaded our template. We're just happy to see people getting excited about rainwater collection.


Cathy said...

I've wanted to do this, too, but my husband says our asphalt roof has chemicals that make the water from the downspout unuable. :(

Rebecca said...

We have a downspout disconnect program here in Portland, and we get a tax credit and reduced water bill for doing it, because the run-off water goes onto your yard instead of into the sewer system where it needs to be processed. Once your downspouts are disconnected (they have professionals do it), you can set up rain barrels.

Since you live in an arid climate, a "small scale rain barrel" would work really well. I plan to get a larger-scale rain barrel soon, maybe off Craigslist!

Sara said...

What a great idea. I'm hoping for a little garden next year and this would be a great way to get some water for watering it.

sara l said...

@mr. (not) the jet set- our bakery gives them away. last time I asked the woman was really upset that they were out and said if I called the next day they would set some aside for me.

@cathy- i just put the bucket in the yard, so there's not roof runoff. significantly less water, but it works well.

@rebecca- that is such a great program. I wish my city was half as green.

Anonymous said...

Great idea. We bought DIY rain barrel kits for the 55 gallon barrels we had - this company is great -

Angie said...

You should be aware that this is illegal due to water rights to rainwater in certain states (definitely CO).