Bed #1 has received water exclusively from rain and reclaimed rain water this seasonBed #1 has received water exclusively from rain and reclaimed rain water this season
Rain barrel from MRCNRain barrel from MRCN
  • Bed #1 has received water exclusively from rain and reclaimed rain water this season
  • Rain barrel from MRCN

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?

1. City of Columbia Rain Barrel Program

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.

2. Missouri River Communities Network

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.

7 Responses to “Where to find rain barrels in Columbia”

  1. Zac
    12 August 2010 at 8:45 am #

    I’ve got mine. The entire process isn’t too terrible. I need to check how it worked with last night’s rain.

  2. Mike
    16 September 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Please provided this updated information about the Blue (rain) Barrel Program. Folks without the internet my still leave a message but all others can sign up online at the city’s website.

    You can go to the City’s Website search RAIN BARRELS then fill out the webform.

    See Link Below:

    I have become inundated with messages and a full voicemail box on my phone for the past two weeks. Please post updated link

  3. CoMo Homestead
    18 September 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    Great! Thanks for the info, Mike.

  4. BeckyJo Middlebrooks
    25 October 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    How does one manage to keep mosquito’s and thier larvea out of the water?
    I don’t live in Columbia area- I’m in the north/central part of Chariton County. But this conception/idea is of great interest to me also.

  5. CoMo Homestead
    26 October 2010 at 8:29 am #

    The opening to the barrel is covered by a screen so mosquitos can’t get in.

  6. Coresa
    30 March 2011 at 1:50 am #

    I was wondering if you were still giving out free rain barrels? And where is the cheapest place to get the kit?

  7. CoMo Homestead
    30 March 2011 at 9:53 am #

    You’ll have to contact the City to see if they are still giving away rain barrels. Or you could check with MRCN and see if you can buy one of theirs.