SARASOTA, Fla. -- Harvesting rainwater using rain barrels helps supplement irrigation for a small investment. Storing rainwater also helps reduce runoff, which can lead to reduced levels of pesticides and fertilizers in our water (think, "algae blooms"). The water savings from using a rain barrel's stored water rather than city or well water can really add up over time. If that's not enough, a rain barrel can even help reduce the amount of water that settles around the foundation of your home.
According to Swiftmud (the Southwest Florida Water Management District), these are common uses for collected rainwater:
- Connect to a soaker hose (with the pressure-reducing washer removed)
- Fill a watering can and hand-water plants, flower beds and gardens
- Keep your compost bin moist
- Rinse off gardening tools
It's even possible to divert water to a tilapia or other fish pond.
Where to start? To find barrels, perform a simple search on the web like this one. Be sure to purchase plastic food-grade containers or ready-made rain barrels with an inlet and outlet installed from the get-go.
The University of Florida has some great guidance for rain barrels and there are plenty of videos on the internet including this one from YouTube: