Ev­ery lit­tle rain­drop helps

Rain bar­rel pro­gram helps en­vi­ron­ment as well as sav­ing cus­tomers some money

Kingston Whig-Standard - - NEWS - JU­LIA MCKAY jm­ckay@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/JMcKayPho­toWhig

The Util­i­ties Kingston rain bar­rel pro­gram, which started up again last week, of­fers cus­tomers a num­ber of ben­e­fits to help the en­vi­ron­ment as well as their pock­et­book.

“It’s a good deal for our cus­tomers and they’ve been tak­ing ad­van­tage of it,” Jim Keech, Util­i­ties Kingston pres­i­dent and CEO, said. “There are quite a num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal rea­sons with this pro­gram, and while none of them are huge, ev­ery lit­tle bit helps. Wa­ter is free and falls from the sky, and it’s a sav­ings as well.”

When cus­tomers use rain­wa­ter for their gar­dens or to wash their cars — in­stead of us­ing wa­ter from the mu­nic­i­pal sys­tem — that means less wa­ter that Util­i­ties Kingston needs to pull from Lake On­tario and treat, with en­ergy and chem­i­cal costs.

In 2017, Util­i­ties Kingston de­liv­ered 630 rain bar­rels to cus­tomers through­out the city.

The cost of a rain bar­rel is $46 plus HST and de­liv­ery, and can be added to the cus­tomer’s up­com­ing util­i­ties bill.

“We’ve been run­ning it for over 10 years,” Keech said. “Ini­tially, it was only one rain bar­rel per ac­count, and now we will do up to four rain bar­rels per [cus­tomer] ac­count. These rain bar­rels hold ap­prox­i­mately 210 litres; have a child-proof lid and mos­quito/ de­bris screen to keep wa­ter in the bar­rel clean and free of pests; and may be con­nected to other bar­rels to in­crease wa­ter cap­ture ca­pac­ity.”

Keech re­mem­bers that in the first few years of the rain bar­rel pro­gram, cus­tomers were asked to go to the util­i­ties of­fices to pick up the rain bar­rel and pay by cash.

“There got to be such a de­mand … we ac­tu­ally had peo­ple lined up and we had traf­fic prob­lems here, so that’s when we moved to the de­liv­ery of them,” Keech said. “We’re do­ing this for a num­ber of en­vi­ron­men­tal rea­sons, and one of the things we looked at is that with the cars lined up and peo­ple idling their mo­tors, it was ac­tu­ally more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly to have them de­liv­ered.”

Ini­tially, the pro­gram was only of­fered in ar­eas that had over­flows when it rained, to help ease pres­sure on the mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter sys­tem.

“We started this pro­gram for two rea­sons,” Keech said. “One was to re­duce the amount of rain­wa­ter that ended up in the sewer sys­tems … be­cause with some rain events, we do have some over­flows [and flood­ing in ar­eas]. The sec­ond part is that it’s a source of wa­ter that doesn’t come from our treat­ment sys­tem. There is an ex­ten­sive amount of en­ergy and elec­tric­ity that’s used for treat­ing/pump­ing of wa­ter, so [us­ing the rain bar­rels] is a dou­ble en­vi­ron­men­tal pos­i­tive.”

For more in­for­ma­tion, or to or­der a rain bar­rel while sup­plies last, call Util­i­ties Kingston at 613-5460000 or go on­line to the rain bar­rel in­for­ma­tion page at util­i­tie­sk­ingston.com/Wa­ter/Con­ser­va­tion/RainBar­rel/.


Util­i­ties Kingston pres­i­dent and CEO Jim Keech, seen wear­ing a hockey sweater in hon­our of the vic­tims of the Hum­boldt Bron­cos bus crash and their fam­i­lies, turns over one of the rain bar­rels from be­ing win­ter­ized in the Wa­ter Con­ser­va­tion Gar­den out­side the of­fices on John Counter Boule­vard, on Thurs­day.

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