Barrels of fun.
Water is everywhere. When looking at an image from space we see that our planet has more water than land. Less than three percent of Earth’s water is fresh water. Icecaps and glaciers contain over sixty eight percent of that fresh water and thirty percent is located in ground water. This leaves only 0.3 percent for lakes, rivers and swamps. That’s a lot of percentages to consider so to make it easier we will focus on the fact that more than 99% of all the water on our planet is unusable by mammals, including us. With all this competition for fresh water we can look at one simple and cheap way to conserve this precious resource.
When setup correctly rain barrels will function without difficulty or maintenance and be full of fresh water when we require it, provided it has been raining. Let’s look at their setup first. The typical location to place them is under a downspout so the runoff from our roofs will fill them directly. I have one setup and connected to one of four drain spouts on my 900 square foot house. Even with this small size footprint the rain barrel is usually full after one or two rains depending on how hard the downpour is. There are many on the market that cost an average of $75 - $100. If you are concerned about the look and not worried about the expense these can be purchased and setup quickly and easily. If you are like myself and not made of money or would rather “do it yourself” there are many plans easily found. Attached is a plan for one similar to the barrel in my backyard for $15 dollars and a little elbow grease. Rain barrels can be linked together to have a large amount of water ready and available.
One may wonder though, “Why should I bother” or “Is it really that helpful”. When you turn on your outside faucet the typical flow rate is 10 gallons per minute. If you have worked in the yard and want to wash your tools off this is a perfect time to use your rain barrel. When you have a dry day and need to water your backyard garden you are able to use this water that is free and ready rather than depleting the amount available to other resources. After setting up my rain barrel in my yard I discovered another use for this water. In my neighborhood most of the houses are over 100 years old. This means the plumbing going to these houses are also that old in some areas. We had a water main rupture that interrupted water available to our house for a day. Not to worry, we had 55 gallons of fresh water waiting to be used. Quick boiling or treatment and this water was as good as coming out of the tap.