Rain barrels are an easy way to cut down on your home’s water consumption by using rainwater to water your gardens and lawn. They can be purchased from your local Lowes, Home Depot, or online. If you are feeling a little more creative and frugal, they can be made easily at home.
To make your own, you will need a large barrel (a 55 gallon plastic drum), a faucet, a screen filter, an extender tube, some concrete blocks, and some power tools. Materials should cost about $50 or less. There are four basic steps:
- Create drainage holes
- Ensure a water tight seal
- Insert a filter and elevate the barrel
- Attach your downspout to the rain barrel
With a new rain barrel installed in your home, you will be able to reduce your water bill for lawn and garden care. It is important to note that you will need to monitor your water levels to ensure your barrel does not overflow. However, this inexpensive installation is still an affordable way to reduce stormwater runoff around your home. Even the smallest actions can make a difference to your local watershed.
A full tutorial can be found here: DIY Network
According to the National Academy of Sciences, oil equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill is released into the environment from cars every eight months. This equals 10.9 million gallons of petroleum entering sensitive ecosystems and this number only includes discharges in the United States! So, that rainbow sheen you see running from underneath your car or in the parking lot of your local shopping center is responsible for polluting local streams and rivers.
Oil entering the environment as runoff from streets, driveways and parking is extremely detrimental to local watersheds. It comes in the form of car exhaust, tire wear, metals, oil leaking from engines, and improper disposal of oils and lubricants. The amount of pollutants has grown due to the rising demand for cars, and the increased stormwater produced in urban and suburban places. This is bad news for vulnerable ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes and coastal habitats, where much water pollution often ends up. In addition to cars, oil pollution is common from boating activity. This petroleum hydrocarbon pollution from motor vehicles is expected to continue growing in the upcoming years with global urbanization.
Impervious surfaces are partly to blame. When stormwater is unable to infiltrate, it collects pollutants on the surface of streets and parking areas, which are carried into storm drain systems. Storm drains release this polluted runoff into local waters and wreak havoc on the plants and animals. Oil spills are well-known to have detrimental effects on birds, plants, and fish. It is also increasingly important to ensure cars and engines do not leak and stormwater runoff is reduced to avoid damages to fragile ecosystems.
With spring weather coming early this year, get a head start on your garden by going to the Boston Flower and Garden Show. Learn about the perennials and annuals available for your garden, as well as new landscaping techniques and trends. While you’re there, stop by the EPA’s booth and talk to the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition about starting a rain garden to reduce your home’s stormwater impact on local environments!
Stormwater is responsible for damaging as many as 75% of lakes and streams in the New England region due to runoff carried from fertilizers, sediments, and more. With a brand new rain garden, you can not only add visual appeal to your house, but you reduce the amount of harmful pollutants entering your local watershed and destroying local wildlife. The people of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition can help you both beautify your yard and clean the environment.
The show runs March 16-20 at the Seaport World Trade Center, Boston with tickets available both online and at the door.