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Rain Barrels 101: Saving for a Sunny Day
“Rain barrels are an easy, efficient solution to water conservation and stormwater runoff,” said Stuart Campbell of Blue Water Baltimore (BWB) at a UMB Go Green-sponsored sustainability workshop this October.
Rain barrels—systems that collect and store rainwater from roofs that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams—save the average homeowner 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months.
BWB rain barrels can hold up to 60 gallons at a time, said Campbell. They’re also completely sealed to ward off mosquitos and other pests, but Campbell suggests draining the barrel within five to seven days of a storm that fills it up. You can use rainwater to water lawns, gardens, and indoor plants.
Rain barrels are not only cost-effective, but reduce the amount of contaminants stormwater runoff carries into local waterways, said Campbell. Trash and other pollutants are carried into the Chesapeake Bay by stormwater runoff through storm drains.
“We’re trying to spread the word that trash cannot go down storm drains,” said Amy Dewan, assistant storm drain arts coordinator with BWB. With the City’s approval, Dewan helps community groups design and create storm drain stencils to educate residents and visitors about the effect of litter on the Bay.
Baltimore City spends $5 million per year cleaning up trash, said Dewan. The storm drain stencils help bring the community together and promote a clean environment. “It’s a great education opportunity for children,” she adds, “but all ages can make an impact.”
To qualify for a free rain barrel installation, register for BWB’s Water Audit program, which also includes other water conservation opportunities such as tree planting, rain gardens, conservation landscaping, pavement removal, and downspout disconnection.
Another way you can take action, said Campbell, is to sign a public comment letter telling the Maryland Department of the Environment you want effective trash limits for the Baltimore Harbor.
Story by Tracy Gnadinger