Local groups offering rain barrel water collection program
By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Mar. 17, 2011
Many local residents may still be too waterlogged from melting snow and spring rains to think much about conserving water this summer. Still, Enfield’s Conservation Commission and the Enfield Garden Club are teaming up to sponsor a rain barrel acquisition program.
The aim of the program is to get homeowners and gardeners to think about where and how they will get water for outdoor use during the coming drier months. The program touts two ways in which a homeowner or gardener can save water. Of course, they will save on water usage by using the supply collected in the rain barrel. But they will also save money, just because they don’t have to pay for it.
Rain barrels are positioned in line with a house’s gutter drainpipes. Installation is simple: cut the gutter with a hacksaw, and put the barrel underneath. A diversion mechanism sends rainwater into the barrel instead of out on the ground, walk or driveway. The barrels offered through the Enfield program hold 60 gallons. According to the Rain Barrel Guide website, “for every inch of rain that falls on a catchment area of 1,000 square feet, you can expect to collect approximately 600 gallons of rainwater.” Water collected in rain barrels can be used for washing cars, watering lawns, flowering plants and shrubs, as well as vegetable gardens. Since water in the barrels comes off a roof, it is not recommended as drinking water.
The barrels are available online from “The Rhode Island Water Lady,” Beverly O’Keefe. Orders can be placed at her website - www.riwaterlady.com - through May 6. Enfield is not the first Connecticut town to run a rain barrel program. O'Keefe has run successful rain programs in other Connecticut towns, including Durham and Middletown.
The barrels are equipped with threaded spigots, meant for garden hose connection. They also have covers to keep out debris and mosquitoes, and a fitting to control water overflow. The barrels can also be linked together to increase collection and storage capacity. Clean Energy Commission member Stephen Moriarty has ordered four barrels, which he plans to link together.
Enfield residents, as well as those from surrounding towns, can order the barrels through May 6, and then pick them up at the Enfield Town Garage from 9 a.m. to noon on May 14. According to Conservation Commission member Gretchen Pfeiffer-Hall, the barrels are being passed on to residents at cost. The program is not a fund-raiser. Each 60-gallon barrel costs $70, and because all the barrels will be delivered to the garage at the same time, there is no additional delivery charge.
The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection says rain barrels help conserve water, control local flooding, recharge local groundwater and help keep pollutants out of waterways.
Homeowners who might take advantage of the rain barrel program should also think about where the barrels will go. A full barrel could weigh more than 500 pounds. It will need support on a platform of concrete blocks or landscape stones, and it has to be steady and level. Once it is full, it won’t be moved.
More information about the rain barrel program is available at the Enfield town website, and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection website provides a rain barrel brochure.