Whether you live in an area hard-hit by drought, are looking to save money on your water bills, or just want to conserve water because it’s a precious resource (or all three!), perhaps this spring it’s time to harvest rain water and use it around your house. I plan to do so within the next couple of weeks. Here’s why-and how you can too.
Did you know that in the summer, as much as 40 percent of a homeowner’s water use goes to the yard? Why not replace some of that water coming from the outdoor faucet with rainwater?
Just think of all the rainwater that washes away each time it pours. According to the U.S. EPA, a rain barrel can save a single homeowner about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. That’s a lot of water for very little money or work. Plus, harvesting that water means less of it ends up in your sewer treatment facility-and you’re helping to keep rivers, beaches, and the like a bit cleaner (because that water runoff often picks up some nasty contaminants and litter on its way). Oh, and did I mention that naturally softened rainwater is great for water plants, cleaning your car, or even washing windows? It is-you just can’t drink it!
How do I start?
Making your own rain barrel is a pretty darn easy DIY project-all you really need is a large food-quality barrel or even a big plastic garbage can with a lid. You’ll need to make a hole in the lid for the gutter connector and a hole near the bottom of the can where you’ll want to screw in a spigot. But, essentially, that’s it.
Lucky for you, there are lots of resources online to help you with the steps. Check out the easy instructions provided by Southwest Florida Water Management District or the City of Bremerton, Washington (you can even download their handy brochure).
In case you’re like me and like to shop around for how-to info, I thought I’d include a few more sites with step-by-step pointers: HGTV, DIY Network, Naturalrainwater.com (I love the illustrations here) are three that will have you in the know. And you can’t beat Garden Gate magazine’s comprehensive guide.
If you really don’t want to make your own barrel, you can also buy one, of course.
What’s that you say? You don’t want your water catchment system out in the open? Well then check out the terrific idea Michelle Kaufmann posted on Instructables: make your barrel part of your garden.
This weekend, I’m going to buy a Watersaver downspout rainwater diverter and make a homemade barrel to use with it. Who’s with me?
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