Rain barrels just make sense. We do get plenty of rain, right? Just not necessary exactly when we need it. Rain barrels allow you to capture the rain when you have plenty, and save it to be used when you really need it (like now).
A rain barrel basically just diverts rain from your home’s roof (or garage roof or other structure) and stores it in some sort of container, such as a barrel. The water is non-potable, so use it in your garden and on your lawn (if you must, or just get rid of your turf), but please don’t drink it.
Benefits of rain barrels:
- FREE water when you need it
- Allows you to cut down on your consumption of treated tap water
- Helps prevent runoff into nearby streams, which can lead to stream pollution
So where exactly can you find one of these beauties in Columbia?
Okay, really, it doesn’t get any better than this. Free rain barrels! The rain barrels are part of the City’s stormwater program, with Mike Heimos, the City’s Stormwater Educator, as the mastermind behind the program.
I picked up a barrel from Mike last week. He is a super-friendly, super-helpful guy who really just wants to help you set up a rain barrel. His goal is to give away 5 per week. When I picked mine up I was barrel #2, so seize this awesome opportunity, folks!
Mike has arranged for PepsiCo to donate the barrels to the City. These are food-grade barrels that previously held some sort of food product. My barrel was used to store maple syrup. (I don’t know what PepsiCo was doing with maple syrup, but whatever.)
One thing to take into consideration with the free barrels is that you are only receiving the barrel – not any of the plumbing or fixtures to turn a food-grade barrel into a rain barrel. Mike does have a video on how to do this, though, so if you’re willing to be a little handy and buy a few low-cost items at the hardware store, you can end up with a great barrel for an uber cheap price.
This is a great community agency that has a variety of programs promoting healthy Missouri rivers and streams, including a rain barrel program.
If you’re not interested in a DIY rain barrel from the City, you can get one fully assembled from MRCN. I purchased one from them last year.
3. Hardware stores
You can occasionally find rain barrels at big box and local hardware stores. These tend to be more “pretty” (and by pretty I mean not fluorescent blue), but from what I’ve seen they also tend to be more expensive. If you’re looking for a more inconspicuous barrel, though, this might be the way to go.
I believe this year I have exclusively watered bed #1 (strawberries and corn) with rain barrel water (not that I’ve needed to water much at all until the last week or two). I hooked up a soaker hose to the spigot on my rain barrel, so I can just turn on the spigot and the garden gets watered! What a great way to conserve water.