Rain bar­rels - the ‘gate­way drug’

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - WATERENERGYNEXUS - DOUG PUSHARD

Dur­ing my classes on rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing and water conservation, rain bar­rels are dis­cussed and re­ferred to as a “gate­way drug.” I say this in a tongue-in-cheek, pos­i­tive way. Rain bar­rels are pop­u­lar and an in­ex­pen­sive way to get started sav­ing water. They come in a range of col­ors and shapes, and have be­come widely avail­able. So catch­ing FREE rain, how could some­one pos­si­bly be mak­ing a poor de­ci­sion?

Don’t get me wrong, catch­ing rain is a great thing to do. A mere half-inch of rain off a 500-square-foot garage roof will gen­er­ate 155 gal­lons of water (.5 inches x 500 x .623). That’s more than three times what a typ­i­cal 50-gal­lon rain bar­rel will hold. Once some­one is con­vinced that cap­tur­ing rain is a good thing and more im­por­tantly is com­mit­ted to cap­tur­ing this free water, he may then see water flow­ing over the top of a newly pur­chased rain bar­rel. Now the hor­ror sets in: how much free water is be­ing wasted!

At this point, folks will gen­er­ally go one of two ways. Some will buy more rain bar­rels, then link them to­gether to in­crease stor­age. Oth­ers will de­ter­mine they need to fig­ure out a dif­fer­ent ap­proach and will sign up for a class or hire a professional for ad­vice on cap­tur­ing that over­flow. Often the bet­ter way is to ditch the 50-gal­lon rain bar­rel and go with a larger bar­rel — 200 gal­lons or more— or in­stall a pas­sive rain­wa­ter sys­temwith no bar­rels at all!

It is for this rea­son I call rain­bar­rels the gate­way drug. They are the path that many folks travel. It is the en­try­way for peo­ple to be­come aware of how much rain ac­tu­ally falls on their house and prop­erty. Every drop we can keep on our prop­erty is bet­ter for the neigh­bors and bet­ter for our plants, and re­duces our re­liance on the water-grid.

The City of Santa Fe helps with this process by of­fer­ing re­bates for pur­chas­ing rain­bar­rels and larger tanks. More in­for­ma­tion can be found at www. save­wa­ter.com/re­bates

Rain­bar­rels are a great starter; but if pos­si­ble go big­ger or go pas­sive. And if your water con­serv­ing habits be­come ad­dic­tive, seek professional help.

Doug Pushard, founder of the web­site www.Har­vestH2o.com, has de­signed and in­stalled res­i­den­tial rain­wa­ter sys­tems for over a decade. He is a mem­ber of the Santa FeWater Conservation Com­mit­tee, a life­time mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Rain­wa­ter Catch­ment Sys­tems As­so­ci­a­tion, and an EPAWaterSense Part­ner. He can be reached at doug@Har­vestH2o.com.

COURTESY PHOTO

These old-fash­ioned wooden bar­rels look good, but only hold about 60 gal­lons apiece

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