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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,” Stuart Campbell of Blue Water Baltimore (BWB) said at a UMB Go Green-sponsored sustainability workshop in 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, Campbell said. 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 they also reduce the amount of contaminants stormwater runoff carries into local waterways, Campbell said. 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.
The city of Baltimore spends $5 million per year cleaning up trash, Dewan said. 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.”
— Tracy Gnadinger