Susan Harris at Garden Rant recently wrote about the new interest in rain barrels. I personally haven’t thought a lot about rain barrels since we visited our daughter Betsy who was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya in 1989. She was working on a gravity fed line from a spring to a newly built water storage tank. This would mean that women (and note that I am talking about women and children) would not have to walk two miles each way carrying all the water that each family would use. There was also a project to put metal roofs on the villagers houses that would capture and direct rainfall into storage tanks at each house. It took Betsy nearly her whole tour to get her own household water storage tank.
People with suburban gardens have different reasons to use water barrels. They reduce the demand on the municipal water supply, which means they might also save some money on their water bill. They also reduce the amount of runoff during severe rainstorms (which seems more frequent somehow) which can overwhelm storm sewers . Finally, there is the benefit of chlorine free water for our plants.
The 50 gallon rain barrel pictured is from Clean Air Gardening in Texas. Like some other manufactured rain barrels it is made of recycled materials. It includes a water spigot and rear overflow which can be connected to another rain barrel. And water can collect fast. A quarter inch rain fall on an average size roof can yield about 200 gallons of water. Their online catalog will show their full line of rain barrels ranging in price from $109.99 ($19 shipping) to $299.99 – and don’t forget the mosquito dunks!
Gardener’s Supply of Vermont is more familiar to me. They sell a smaller range of rain barrels including a 75 gallon deluxe model for $139 plus $25 shipping. They’ve got mosquito dunks, too. They also have a full catalog online.
So far, we live where we have been able to take good water for granted. I have long felt that potable water, and sufficient water for agriculture is going to be a more and more important issue for our world.