Late April is a wonderful time in Massachusetts. Finally, the green of spring is coming out in full force and so are the colors of flowers in bloom! Farmers and home gardeners alike are starting to get outside, turn over their soil and prepare for the growing season to come.
Did you know that outdoor water use can constitute 40% of a home’s monthly water consumption during the summer time? Many cities and towns in the state of Massachusetts have seasonal water restrictions, and you may recall that last summer’s drought caused a lot of complications for local water supplies. Getting ready for this upcoming season, what can you do to conserve water? If you are a gardener or a person who regularly needs water for outdoor use (filling up pools, washing cars, etc), investing in a rain barrel this season could be a great idea. Rain Barrels are simple, highly effective conservation tools that help you and the environment alike.
What is a Rain Barrel?
A rain barrel is a container hooked up to a gutter and downspout that collects rainwater from your roof. Rain barrels can be made of food-grade plastic or wood, and generally come in sizes of 55 gallons or more. Equipped with a spigot for hose attachment, rain barrels make clean water readily available to gardens, lawns, car washing, pool filling, and other outdoor needs without having to utilize the municipal water supply.
Does a Rain Barrel Collect Enough Water for My Needs?
Optimal placement and, of course, rain at regular intervals, will ensure that your barrel is full and provides the necessary amount of water that you need for your garden. Furthermore, barrels can be linked, increasing your storage capacity. According to the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, it is fairly simple to calculate the potential rain yield of your roof. If you know the square footage of your roof, multiply it by 623 and then divide by 1000. For example, 1 inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof will yield 623 gallons of water. Plenty for your little 60-gallon barrel!
Pick up a Barrel or Make It Yourself
If you are a Massachusetts resident, chances are you live in or near a town that distributes and even subsidizes rain barrels. Check your town’s water district website or the Massachusetts government website for more details. There, you can find a list of difference local and national companies that make and sell rain barrels. Adventurous DIYers can find schematics and instructions for building a barrel from scratch by doing a quick internet search, as well!
Small Steps Make a Big Difference
Though we have enjoyed a lot of rain during this April, remember that last year’s drought could be repeated in the future. Making small changes to your home and garden now can make a big difference for your local water supply, your own garden and your water bill. Planting a rain garden this Spring, adding a rain barrel to your gardening tools, and being more mindful of your indoor water use (turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, etc), are all small, but important steps that will ultimately make a big difference.
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