Archived Story

Capturing rain water for home use: A growing good idea

Published 10:15pm Monday, January 21, 2013

There are several benefits to using a rain barrel at home or at work. You can save water by leaving the hose off, you can save money and slow stormwater runoff.  And by doing this, you can help prevent pollution by lowering the stress on local streams.

At its simplest, a rain barrel is a container with openings, placed outdoors under spots where water pours off the roof of commercial or residential construction. Most people place the barrel under a drain spout and in a location that is accessible to the garden.  You then connect a garden hose to the barrel’s  faucet.

Runoff water is soft water devoid of chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals and is great for the garden and indoor uses, and with exact and proper filtration and city testing, rain water can even be considered for drinking. Typically the container is a 55-gallon plastic drum that can last for decades.  Barrels must be food-grade and not barrels that have contained any kinds of chemical.

Barrels must be effectively “closed-systems” to prevent mosquito breeding or invasion from other species and animals.

A 100-square-foot yard could use several barrels. Once your barrels are full you can go weeks without rain and never have to turn the hose on. Clean and rinse your barrels once a year and make sure to empty them in the winter so they don’t freeze or explode from ice build-up.

Cindy Bosien, creator and designer of Garden Saviour Rain Barrels,  knows that rain barrels are not only good for the garden, lawn and street trees but by temporarily holding off stormwater runoff, they reduce overflow to creeks and rivers and decrease pollution.

“Rainwater can improve the health of your gardens because of the lack of chemicals. Wash your hair and clothing in it and enjoy natural softening-effects.  After all it’s what people once depended on and wild flora and fauna thrives on,” she reminds us.

Part of her mission in building and installing rain barrels, is to demonstrate that even in drought we probably are, as a county, receiving enough water for our needs and to share, if we were collectively working to capture it.

Cindy has created an oasis on her acreage surrounding her old farm house on the edge of the Polk County line where she has lived and raised her family for 30 years. She works tirelessly to connect water issues to people’s awareness and people to nature through water conservation.

She also designs drought-tolerant landscapes and water features, and teaches the methods and importance in building habitat for all living creatures, especially pollinators of our food.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses between 80 – 100 gallons of water a day.  The average 8.2-minute shower uses 20 gallons of water. We turn on outdoor faucets and hoses almost unaware, when we can be capturing the majority of this use, freely, from our skies. Conserving resources is a growing good idea as we must choose to become more environmentally aware.

For information on ready-made rain barrels that offer installation services, contact Cindy Bosien of Polk County’s Garden Saviour RainBarrels at bohog3@hotmail.com.

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