What is a rain barrel?
Rain barrels are vessels of any size used to catch and store rainwater as it rolls off a hard surface, typically a roof via a gutter system. The collection and storage of rainwater for household use is an ancient practice: historical records show that rainwater was collected in clay containers in first century.
Today, most rain barrels are 50- to 80-gallon containers made of plastic or wood. Rain barrels are commonly available at retail locations, but many people make their own using a food-grade barrel and a few pieces of inexpensive hardware.
Why rain barrels?
Choosing rain barrels as a method for stormwater conservation benefits both you and the environment. Staff at Capitol Region Watershed District promote the use of rain barrels because they prevent at least a small amount rainwater from running off across hard surfaces in the urban landscape and picking up pollutants on the way to our lakes and the Mississippi River.
Although rainwater cannot be used for drinking without special treatment with a filtration system, you do not need a filtration system for landscape uses. Rainwater can help to improve the health of your gardens, lawns, and trees. Rain is a naturally soft water and devoid of minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals. For this reason, plants respond very well to rainwater – it is how they are watered in the wild. And if you are interested in saving money, you can potentially create unlimited and continuous access to “free” water for your lawn or garden. You can also use rain barrels to collect and direct rainwater away from your house foundation.
Getting a Rain Barrel
Rain barrels can be purchased at garden centers or local retailers. Below is a list of places that sell rain barrels.
- Recycling Association of Minnesota
- Ace Hardware
- Hamline Hardware Hank
- Mitsch Hardware Hank
- Cedar Hill Natives
- Hedberg Nursery
You can also build your own barrel. To find used food grade barrels, try contacting an imported food store that receives food in fifty-five gallon plastic drums.
CRWD Support for Rain Barrels
CRWD residents may apply for individual rain barrel reimbursement grants to help pay for rain barrels, or community council or faith community groups may apply for grants to host rain barrel construction workshops. Visit our Grants Page for more information or call our office: 651-644-8888.