A rain barrel captures and collects runoff exiting the gutter system through the downpipes. In addition to being a part of eco-friendly gardening practices, rain barrels improve how drainage is managed on a residential property. The benefits of rain barrels include saving money, increasing soil health, and making more water available during water restrictions and mild droughts.
When runoff is collected in a rain barrel, it can reduce the number of pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers, debris, and other contaminants from becoming part of the ecosystem. When contaminated runoff enters bodies of water, it can encourage algae growth in lakes and streams or make the ocean inhabitable for fish, water mammals, and other types of aquatic life.
Reduces Soil Erosion
Runoff from downspouts can wash away the soil from the foundation of your home. Soil erosion might also occur as rainwater is deposited into other areas of your property such as the lawn, where the runoff creates “bald” spots and exposes the roots of trees and shrubs. Rainwater harvesting or using a rain barrel helps eliminate the ill effects of soil erosion.
Improves Soil and Plant Health
Rainwater is better for the soil, plants, trees, and shrubs because it contains minimal contaminants. Collecting and storing rainwater in rain barrels and then using it to water your garden reduces chemical buildup from tap water (chlorine and fluoride) or well water (iron and other heavy minerals) that can harm plants and deplete the soil.
Generally during late spring, summer, and autumn, 40% of a household’s water consumption is spent on watering the garden, including the lawn. Rain barrels can help reduce your water bills with a free resource that we get a lot of here in the lower mainland.
Those in opposition to residential rain barrels state that they hold considerably less than what can roll off a roof in several hours of rainfall: a homeowner would need to connect several barrels together to make a significant difference in water conservation. However, other conservationists and environmentalists point out that even one rain barrel installed beneath a downspout can have a positive impact.
Depending on the size, retail rain barrels typically hold 189 to 300 litres (50 to 80 gallons) – water that can be used, in addition to watering vegetable gardens, flowerbeds and indoor plants, for cleaning windows, scrubbing decks and washing patio furniture.
Another Source of Water
Metro Vancouver is already under watering restrictions and it’s still spring. When warmer temperatures arrive, rain barrels provide another source of water that can be used when watering restrictions are in effect.