“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.” — Benjamin Franklin
Humans have been collecting water as long as their feet have been walking the Earth — a planet, as we are beginning to realize, that does not have infinite resources. One summer of drought and imposed water usage restrictions will remind us of that sobering fact.
We can, however, reduce our water footprint and save money by utilizing rain barrels. Rain barrels are containers that store water from the downspout of a rooftop gutter. The harvesting of rainwater for later usage is an excellent method of water conservation. The captured water can be used to water lawns, gardens, and outdoor plants, to wash household windows and cars, and for use in outdoor fountains.
According to epochrainbarrels.com, rainwater is best for your plants and soil, as it’s highly oxygenated and is free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Use of rainwater in your garden makes plants more drought-tolerant, healthy and strong.
Rain barrels can be made from food-grade plastic, recycled plastic, wood, clay, stone, or metal, and come in a variety of colors and designs. Most barrels hold 40 to 75 gallons of water. Rain barrels come with a secure top to prevent mosquitoes and other insects from entering the water supply and to keep out rooftop debris.
The Environmental Protection Agency offers this important reminder: Rain barrel water can collect pollutants from your roof (bacteria from birds and other animals and chemicals from rooftop materials) and should never be used for drinking water. Depending on your use, the water may not be suitable for vegetable gardens.
When choosing your rain barrel, consider the correct size and material for your needs. The rule of thumb is that one inch of rainfall over 100 square feet of roof will generate about 60 gallons of water.
Treeland Garden Center & Nursery in Bridgeport has been serving Fairfield County since 1954. The company offers rain barrels through TrueValue.com. Bob Ferrigno, owner, recommends coming into the store to speak with its horticulturists and to review purchase options. Treeland will place your order and have it delivered to the store, with pickup generally within seven days.
Benedict’s Home & Garden in Monroe offers rain barrels on display, as does Tractor Supply Co. in Orange. Home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s carry a variety of options when it comes to rain barrels, as does BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Online retailers Amazon and Wayfair offer everything from basic rain barrels to eye-catching designs that enhance your outdoor landscape. At Greenhome.com, you’ll find a selection of recycled plastic rain barrels, collapsible/portable rain barrels, and accessories such as stands and link kits for tandem barrels.
Conserving water should be everyone’s priority, including your local water company. For the past few years, Bridgeport-based Aquarion Water Co. has been offering rain barrels to Fairfield County residents at discounted prices.
According to Peter Fazekas, director of public relations, “Aquarion is pleased to offer our customers the opportunity to conserve water and save money through the use of rain barrels. Rain barrels are an efficient and effective way to store rain water for later use and provide a free, ready source of water for filling watering cans, connecting a garden hose, feeding a drip irrigation system, and other outdoor chores.”
Aquarion is in partnership with Sky Juice New England, a rain barrel distributor that offers rain barrel purchase programs to municipalities in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The 60-gallon terracotta rain barrels that Sky Juice distributes must be purchased online by May 28. When you order, choose your June 9 pickup location in Trumbull, Darien or Greenwich. For online ordering and details, visit skyjuice.us/html/ct_aquarion_water_co.html.