Rainwater Diversion

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a container that captures and stores rainwater from your roof. Did you know that the average roof collects 600 gallons of water for every inch of rain?  The water that is harvested can be used for a variety of purposes, including:  lawn and garden watering, topping off pools, washing cars, decks, windows and siding, and more.  Barrels usually range from 50 to 80 gallons and have a spigot for filling watering cans and a connection for a soaker hose. Combining the use of rain barrels with appropriate plant selection and mulching promotes water conservation. Rain barrels benefit your home, garden and community.  SWALCO does make rain barrels available to residents at reduced prices at their annual Mother’s Day Weekend Compost Bin, Rain Barrel and Native Plant Sale with the Forest Preserves and then during certain times of the year when they have them in stock.  

Why use a rain barrel?

There are numerous reasons to utilize a rain barrel.  Here are some of the benefits:

  • Conserves Water, Energy & Money

Rain barrels allow homeowners to collect and store rainwater to be used at a later time. In doing so, homeowners use less water from the faucet, conserving both water and energy in the home as well as the energy needed for water facilities to treat the water that would have been consumed. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40% of domestic water usage during peak summer months. Rain barrels save most homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water each summer, reducing the demand for clean water. Although some people do install their own filtering system, rainwater is not potable, but rainwater harvesting helps homeowners to reduce their water bills while conserving water and protecting the environment.

  • Reduces Rainwater Runoff and Improves Water Quality

One important benefits of rain barrels is that they reduce the amount of runoff from our roofs.  Runoff is a huge problem in urban and suburban areas, polluting our waterways with fertilizers, pesticides, and other contaminants. It can cause a lot of downstream damage. Running water also gathers leaves as it flows, causing storm drain blockages and floods. Reducing runoff helps keep our waterways clear, keeping our lakes and streams healthy for the humans that use them, and, for the plants and animals that rely on them.

  • Prevents Soil Erosion

Slowing down the flow of gutter runoff also helps to reduce soil erosion. Erosion can damage your foundation, as well as remove the nutrient-rich topsoil from your garden.   Collecting runoff from the roof preserves that topsoil for your plants, and prevents further damage to your landscaping.

  • Healthier For Plants

Water from home faucets is treated to a level allowing it to be safe to drink, while natural rain water has the pH level ideal for water and plant growth. Rain water harvesting helps to divert rain from storm drains, decrease the impact of runoff to streams, and minimize sewer overflows during heavy rainfalls.

  • Provides Water During Droughts

This is especially helpful during periods of drought and water restrictions. You can have water accessible and keep your garden and landscaped areas green and bountiful, without drawing on limited community resources, or facing higher usage fees.