Rain barrels were a way to collect water for all types of use in the old days. They used it for drinking, cleaning, and agricultural purposes. With water treatment plants, clean water has become very important in each individuals life. In the western part of the United States, water has even become a premium.
One way to collect water for many purposes is by the use of a rain barrel. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation estimates that 1 inch of rain over a 24 hour period produces 700 gallons of water just off an average roof of a home. That is a lot of water. That is enough water for 17 baths, 28 showers, and the watering of many plants.
The average rain barrel will hold between 50 and 55 gallons of water. So four of these placed at each corner of your house to collect water from your gutters would provide about 200 gallons. If you have a water problem with your basement, this would help reduce that problem. They also slow down the surface drain off of water into sewers. There are some communities where this is a very important factor.
The water could be used for watering your outdoor garden, indoor flowers, washing your car, cleaning tools, washing your pet, and emergency water for flushing your toilets,when water is scarce. If you use this water to wash things, do it on th grass. It is great for plants. It is a way to recycle water for other use. Even if there is detergent in the water, the ground will filter it before the water gets to the roots of most plants.
Because of environmental pollution, it is recommended not to use rain water as drinking water or even cooking.
Making a rain barrel is very easy to do. You will need a plastic food type barrel, brass faucet, male hose adapter,brass female hose connector, 3 washes, 2 lock nuts, caulk, small piece of hose, three foot square window screen, drill with a hole saw, pliers, and hacksaw.
a. Wash out the barrel using Simple Green, a full cap. Rinse well.
b. Drill two holes in your barrel. One at the top and one about 3 to 4 inches from the bottom. Each hole should be 1/16 inch smaller than faucet and valve.
c. Install the faucet assembly at the bottom.Secure it with washer and lock nut.
d. Install the overflow valve at the top. Use the male adapter at the top with washer and lock nut. Attach the female hose connector to the outside with a small hose.
e. If your barrel lid has a solid center, use a key hole saw to cut out the center. Place the screen over it and then place a plastic ring over it and secure it with screws. The screen is important for keeping out insects, especially mosquitoes.
f. Place it on blocks or bricks under your down spout. This way you can get a bucket under it. You may have to cut off and readjust your down spouts so that they are higher on your home and can reach your barrel.
Note; There are some places were rain barrels are banned because of the West Nile Virus.
Using rain water is a way to save money, help plants, recycle water, and is great for our ECO system.
sources; Cris Ausink; Hampton, Virginia (Environmental Educator