If you have not heard, Highlands has received a grant from NJ American Water for Rain Barrels. This grant is for environmental concerns and is for ten thousand dollars ($10k). Highlands is expecting to be able to buy at least 100 barrels, and possibly more with those funds to distribute to homeowners in Highlands.
Now many people may roll their eyes and think oh yeah… rain barrels “whoop di dooo…” no big deal.
Well one or two don’t make a huge difference beyond the garden and yard of the person using them. But for every barrel (which on average are 55 gallons) that is less water running directly into our drainage systems with a heavy rain fall. Even a fairly small roof line of 800 Square feet can produce up to 500 gallons of water in a 1/2 inch rainfall. When that water is hitting driveways ad sidewalks, which is not uncommon in our small densely packed streets, it is going right into the drainage systems and contributes to some of our flooding issues.
HELPS WITH FLOODING
By diverting the water to enter the system at a non rainfall event, each rain barrel used can contribute to less street flooding in our little town. Just like with recycling efforts, when we start working together as a community our individual efforts can add up quickly. Of course there are other great benefits beyond the flooding issues.
Rainwater is highly oxygenated, free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Use of rainwater in your garden dilutes this impact, making plants more drought-tolerant, healthy, and strong. I have already started my seeds and cannot wait to start planting my garden this year, and feel even better when I can be as green as possible with the way I tend it. Why worry about my organic food when I then flood them with tap water?
You’ll help to reduce runoff pollution. When it rains, runoff picks up soil, fertilizer, oil, pesticides and other contaminants and pushes them into other areas of the landscape. These pollutants can increase algae growth in lakes, alter the habitat for fish, and even make lakes and oceans dangerous for recreational activities. Your water collecting stops some of this damaging flow. This is one of the most important issues for me. Living downtown, especially in the spring, I watch as a great deal of run off flows off the lawns of homes further up the hill. I know that many of these lawns are being treated with chemicals that are being picked up and carried on to my sidewalks, where my dogs are walking and picking up all sorts of toxins. Not to mention draining into the water.
You’ll have a fresh, green way to wash your cars and pets. Rainwater doesn’t have the salt and other chemicals found in tap water.
Rain runoff is also a particular issue in places where land erosion is a concern. Your rain catch will be especially helpful in these cases.
You can reduce your water bill. Garden and lawn watering accounts for 40 percent of residential water use during the summer, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Thanks to a rain barrel’s water catch, the typical gardener can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season.
Oh and finally… If you don’t like the way the barrel looks… you can always get creative and paint it.