rain barrel

Catch the rain before it’s gone!

Once again, the huge amount of rains in the last weeks have made me think a lot about how to take more advantage of rainwater, or really, just collect more.

Which leads me to a question I was asked once that was along the lines of “I feel like I should be collecting rainwater, but don’t have any plants to water. Why should I do it?” It’s true, rainwater is so much better for your plants than the municipal water supply (it’s generally higher in nitrogen and it’s softer water), which probably is THE main reason people collect it. However, an often overlooked, just as good reason is for erosion control. You don’t have to actually “use” the water collected, but if you could at least slow it down on your property; that would aid in reducing the amount of erosion your property is subjected to.

An easy visualization of this is the divots or valleys along the sides of a house where the rain pours off the roof and bangs into the ground-typically if you don’t have gutters. See the picture on the right–it’s VERY obvious where the water lands when it runs off the roof. Where does the soil go that used to occupy that space? Well, it gets carried off down into the street, into the storm water system, which flows into our creeks. By the way, this water isn’t cleaned or treated; it doesn’t go to the wastewater plant.

So, if that water can be slowed down, or stopped, that’s less soil that will be robbed from your yard each time it rains. You can collect the water and then just release it, slowly, over your yard a few days after the rain event. Then the barrel(s) is empty and ready to collect the next rain event and you don’t have any worries about mosquitoes!

Two more good reasons for collecting rainwater include:

1. It’s free and 2. Tax-exempt! The water falling from the sky is free, and the purchase of collection containers has been tax-exempt in Texas since 2001.

To assist you with collecting this precious resource, the City of Round Rock has a rebate for installing water collection tanks or barrels. (This rebate is available for direct City of Round Rock water customers only.)  Round Rock is also having a rainbarrel sale that is going on currently until November 9, 2014:

Three sizes of rain barrels are being offered:

  • 50-gallon Spring Saver, 6 color choices, $64.99
  • 54-gallon Rain Saver, 3 color choices, $84.99
  • Classic 100-gallon, 28 colors, $208.65
  • Also water diverter kits for $15.99 or $21

The barrels will be distributed on Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th at the Dell Diamond NE parking lot.  This is located behind the Prosperity Bank.  To order barrels, go to http://www.cityrainbarrelprogram.org/  You do not have to be a City of Round Rock water customer or resident to purchase any of these products.  There is no limit to how many you can purchase.

All the details to both of these City programs can be found at www.roundrocktexas.gov/waterconservation

Rain Barrel Sale Going on Now

The City’s Water Conservation Program is having a rain barrel sale!  The barrels being sold are being supplied from a different company than the last sales.  These barrels are made in Austin, so a little more local.  Available for this event are three different sizes (capacity) of barrels and a rainspout diverter.  The pre-sale is open now for barrels to be purchased online.

Barrel Descriptions:

  • The 50-gallon Springsaver barrel has a compact design with a flat back, to nestle up close to the side of your house. It’s available in 6 color choices and being sold for $64.99.
  • The 54-gallon Rainsaver barrel looks like a traditional barrel and is available in 3 color choices. It’s being sold for $84.99.
  • The Classic 100-gallon barrel is lined on its interior to prevent mold and algae growth. They are available in 28 colors and being sold for $208.65.
  • The Downspout Diverter system allows you to divert water from your gutter downspouts without have to cutoff the downspout. Two different models are available at $15.99 and $21.00.  These aren’t pictured here.

The ordered barrels and diverters will be distributed on Friday, November 14th and Saturday, November 15th at the Northeast parking lot of the Dell Diamond (this is the parking area behind the bank).

Barrels purchased at this event ARE eligible for the City’s rainwater rebate.  There will be applications for the rebate provided on the distribution date, or you can get it online.  You must be a direct City of Round Rock water customer in order to receive the rebate.  You do not have to be a City water customer in order to purchase the barrels or downspout diverters though.

There is no limit to how many barrels you can purchase, or what combination of barrel sizes or colors you purchase.  To order or for specific questions regarding the barrel specifications, visit the program website at cityrainbarrelprogram.org

I’m compelled to remind you that rainwater is the best choice for watering plants with, as it’s full of nutrients the plants can use better than treated tap water; the main one being nitrogen.  Think of how green and lush everything looks after a good downpour!

I hope to see you at the Dell Diamond in November!

Reminder on rainbarrel and compost bin sale

Spring is nearly officially here, it happens on March 20!  I wanted to remind you that the Water Conservation Program is having another rainbarrel sale, which ends on March 31, 2014!  These are the same 50-gallon Ivy barrels and 65-gallon Moby barrels that were sold last year. You can pre-purchase barrels, online at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/centraltexas.  There WILL be some “extra” barrels available for sale the day of the event, however, we cannot hold them or guarantee the amount we will have–it’s first come, first served.

The pre-ordered barrels will be distributed on Saturday, April 5, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. until noon at the Southwest Williamson County Park near the Quarry Splash Pad.  For those of you that purchased barrels last April, it’s the same place. This is the County Park just north of the 1431 – Sam Bass Road/FM 175 intersection.  It’s the one with the train.

Barrels purchased at this event ARE eligible for the City’s rainwater rebate. There will be applications for the rebate provided on the distribution date.  You must be a City of Round Rock water customer in order to receive the rebate. You do not have to be a City water customer in order to purchase the barrels or compost bins though.

One thing that is a little different than last year is that compost bins will be available for purchase too.  Find out more at the same www.rainbarrelprogram.org/centraltexas link.  They will be distributed during the same event.  A picture of them is below.

There is no limit — except your space and $$ — to how many barrels you can purchase; and if you are looking for something larger than 65-gallons, you can certainly purchase tanks from another vendor and apply for the rebate.  I have a list of mostly local vendors that sell tanks on the Rainwater Page of the website.

I hope to see you at the park on April 5!

 

 

 

Rainwater Collection: Top 5 Reasons to do it

I had the pleasure of attending the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) annual conference this past week in Austin. The topics focused on a variety of things–from legislation, to irrigating with rainwater, to storm water control, and using it for a potable water source, just to name a few topics.  The conference (and the huge amount of rain recently!) has made me think a lot about how to take greater advantage of rainwater, or really, just collect more water.rainbarrel

Which leads me to a question I was asked by a resident recently that was along the lines of “I feel like I should be collecting rainwater, but don’t have any plants to water.  Why would I do it?”  It’s true, rainwater is so much better for your plants than the municipal water supply because of (1.) it’s high nitrogen content (the main plant fertilizer — the N part of PKN in the bags of fertilizer purchased at garden stores) and (2.) it’s softer water than tapwater.  Around here, we have hard water, thanks to all the limestone in the area.  These are probably THE main reasons folks collect rainwater.

However, an often overlooked, just as good reason is for (3.) erosion control.  You don’t have to actually “use” the water collected, but if you could at least slow it down while it’s on your property (when falling from the sky); that would aid in reducing the amount of erosion your property is subjected to.

As easy visualization of what I’m talking about is the divots or valleys along the sides of a house where rain pours off the roof and bangs into the ground–typically if there are no gutters.  See the picture on the right–it’s VERY obvious where the water lands when it runs off the roof.  Where does the soil go that used to occupy that space?  Well, it gets carried off down into the street, into the storm water system, which flows into our creeks.  By the way, this water isn’t cleaned or treated, it doesn’t go to the waste water plant.erosion 002 edited

So, if that water can be slowed down, or stopped, that’s less soil that will be robbed from your yard each time it rains.  You can collect the water in barrels, tanks, converted trash cans, and then release it, slowly, over your yard a few days after the rain event.  Slowly is what’s key here, ideally we want the water to soak in, not run off.  Then the barrel(s) is empty and ready to collect the next rainfall AND you don’t have to worry about mosquitos!!

Another way to slow down the water, and not worry with a tank, is with a rain garden.  The City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department has some good information about creating your own raingarden. http://www.austintexas.gov/raingardens

Other good reasons for collecting rainwater include:

4. It’s free!  The water is anyway.

5. Collection tanks, barrels, and other components are tax-exempt and have been since around 2000.  See the Texas Water Development Board’s website for more details about tax-exemption.

and (bonus reason #6.) The City of Round Rock does offer a rebate for water collection.  See our website at www.roundrocktexas.gov/waterconservation for the application and details on the rebate.