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Be the Change

A Message from Be the Change for Clean Water

A Barrel of Savings

Harvest roof water by installing a rain barrel. Use the water collected to water your flower pots. Your plants love soft, mineral-free rainwater that you’ll capture and store for when you need it



Homeowners, renters, and property owners can conserve water and reduce storm water runoff by installing a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect and store water that runs off your roof and would normally be directed to the street. You can use the collected rain water to water your lawn, gardens, or even wash your car. It's a great way to save money and reduce your water usage. It is not recommended to drink or bathe in it because rainwater is not considered potable aka drinkable water. Your plants and flowers will love it though!



Consider Your Landlord, HOA & Zoning Regulations First: Do you live in an HOA, city limits, or historic district? Check with your local city, HOA, and/or historic district to ensure you can install a rain barrel - especially if it will be on the front or side view of the property. Some areas have rules or regulations about where you can put a rain barrel. If you rent, check with your property owner or manager or lease before installing a rain barrel. 

Location, Location, Location: Consider the location of your rain barrel on your property. You will need to hook it up to a downspout. Where is a downspout, and is it convenient to your garden? Does that downspout capture rain off most of your roof or only a small portion of your roof? Remember, you want to capture the most in order to save the most water. Also, you will want to elevate it off the ground in order to get decent water pressure. The higher elevated, the faster it will flow. Elevate it on some cinder blocks or a sturdy stand. 



  • Before installing, check your local laws and zoning or HOA restrictions. Additionally, some municipalities may require a permit if your downspout discharges directly to a sewer system.
  • Use a rain barrel with a diverter hose installed to be level to prevent your rain barrel from overflowing.
  • Use an enclosed barrel to prevent mosquitoes, or add mosquito dunks regularly to open barrels to kill mosquito larvae that can carry diseases.
  • Use a rain barrel and diverter made of UV resistant plastic or other materials to prevent algae growth.
  • Make sure the place where you’re putting the rain barrel is level and sturdy so that the water load is evenly distributed. A 55-gallon rain barrel will be over 450 pounds when full (one gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds).
  • If possible, don’t put the rain barrel on dirt (this includes pavers/concrete blocks/bricks stacked on top of dirt) because the dirt will compact over time and potentially lower the height of your rain barrel to the point where the diverter doesn’t work properly. Instead, place the barrel on top of asphalt or concrete that’s been poured in your yard --or-- Dig the area out to a depth of 1”-2”, put down pea gravel or sand, and then lay down pavers (e.g., concrete slabs/pads) on top.
  • Elevating the barrel will increase water pressure. The higher the elevation, the greater the pressure of water coming out of the barrel. Gravity only works if the rain barrel is higher than the intended point of use.
  • To prevent debris clogging your diverter, you can use full length gutter screens, downspout rain heads, and downspout leaf eaters (i.e., debris excluders). These will need to be cleaned regularly.
  • To further prevent insects and mosquitoes from entering the barrel, put mesh in front of the valve that connects the diverter to the barrel and/or mesh in front of the hose bib.
  • You can empty the barrel directly into a watering can, but to save time, you can also install a drip or soaker hose to the spigot.
  • Larger tubing helps reduce friction losses (and thus water pressure losses) for longer lengths of tubing/garden hose. 
  • Refrain from using harvested water on edible plants. If you must water them with it, water at the roots to avoid splashing directly onto the plant. 
  • Cycle the water in the barrel regularly to avoid bacteria buildup Clean your barrel at least once every season. You can use dish soap, bleach, or vinegar. 
  • Store your rain barrel indoors during the winter. If you keep your rain barrel installed in the winter, water can enter it and then freeze, which can crack or crush the barrel. If you have to leave outside, disconnect it from the downspout, empty it, and turn it upside down.
  • Use the rainwater within a week or two of collection to help prevent odors from stagnant water or algae growth. If possible, use the collected water before the next rain. Remember the phrase: "After the rain, let it drain!"
  • Ways you can use harvested rainwater (outdoor non-potable uses):
  • Keep compost bins moist
  • Clean garden tools, patio furniture, and other outdoor equipment
  • Water plants
  • Wash cars
  • Rinse recyclable cans and bottles before recycling them