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Plastic Rain Barrel

Save the Rain for a Sunny Day!

A rain barrel connected to your downspout—also known as a rain bank—is a great way to keep stormwater out of the system and to cut down your water bill! Because you are collecting right off the roof, it has few contaminants and is perfect for watering the garden.

For more detailed information on ordering, check out the McHenry County Land Concervancy's Rain Barrel and Composter page.

Benefits of Diverting Water from the Downspout

Diverting water from your downspout into rainwater catchment systems has several advantages:

Residential irrigation can account for 40% of domestic water consumption in a given municipality. Rain barrels not only store water, they help decrease demand during the sweltering summer months. Only 1/4 inch of rainfall runoff from the average roof will completely fill the typical barrel. Collection of water from rooftop runoff can provide an ample supply of this free "soft water" containing no chlorine, lime or calcium. Because it tends to have fewer sediments and dissolved salts than municipal water, rain water is ideal for a multitude of applications, including biodynamic and organic vegetable gardens, raised planter beds for botanicals, indoor tropical plants like ferns and orchids, automobile washing, and cleaning household windows.

Saving water in this manner will reduce you demand for treated tap water, and save money by lowering your monthly bill. Rain water diversion will also help decrease the burden on water treatment facilities and municipal drainage systems during storms. The storage of rain water is also recommended for general emergency preparedness, or for areas prone to disasters or drought. A good formula to remember: 1 inch of rain on a 1,000 sq ft roof yields 623 gallons of water. Calculate the yield of your roof by multiplying the square footage of your roof by 623 and divide by 1000.

Traditionally, rainwater from your roof flows to the ground via a downspout - a pipe through which water is channeled from your home or building eaves troughs (fancy name for roof top gutters). Some downspouts discharge water directly onto the ground, while others serve as conduits to the sewer system. Depending on your local jurisdiction and building design, water may be discharged into the sanitary sewer system, where it will accompany used household water to a municipal treatment facility; or it will enter the storm sewer system, which is designed to drain streets and parking lots of urban runoff. Storm water then passed into flood control channels and eventually enters the local streams, lakes and wetlands. In older municipalities, the sanitary and storm sewers are sometimes merged into one system of piping. During dry weather, the combined flow is diverted to the treatment facility for processing. But during heavy downpours or system failures, the facilities become overloaded and can exceed their carrying capacities, polluting local waterways. This unnatural contamination can lead to algae blooms, high bacterial counts, fetid odors, no fishing zones, and beach closures. Newer municipalities usually have infrastructure that separates the two systems, but that results in irrigation overflow from landscaping and farms entering the storm channels as urban runoff, tainting healthy watershed.