What is a Rain Barrel?
A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams. Usually a rain barrel is composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout. Rain barrels can be used to collect water to water your lawn and plants, wash your car, top off your swimming pool, or wash your windows.
A rain barrel will save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during the peak summer months. Saving water not only helps protect the environment, it saves you money and energy (decreased demand for treated tap water). Diverting water from storm drains also decreases the impact of runoff to streams. Therefore, a rain barrel is an easy way for you to have a consistent supply of clean, fresh water for outdoor use, FREE.
Rain barrels can be purchased from local retailers or you can find many ways to construct your own by doing a search of the internet for "rain barrel".
(Information from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), Environmental Assessment & Innovation Division EPA Region 3, Philadelphia, PA)
More Information on rain barrels from the US EPA
Check out this great public service annoucement about rain barrels from RVTV-3: