Saving rainwater in barrels or cisterns is an idea that is thousands of years old but it is becoming popular again with homeowners. It has many ecological benefits. It provides a water source for irrigating gardens during the dry months and also reduces water cost. Rainwater that runs over our properties and city streets picks up pollutants as it flows into cities storm drainage systems and then into a local stream. By having rainwater stored instead of flowing onto a yard can help reduce the usage of a sump-pump. Also, some homeowners have their basement sump-pumps emptying in the sanitary sewer system, causing a strain on the system and often cause untreated sewage to flow into Iowa’s rivers. Some people like to use rainwater to water houseplants because the chlorine in city water can harm indoor plants. Collecting, storing, and using rainwater is a way to help alleviate some these problems.

A simple way to start collecting rainwater is to install a rain barrel. Rain barrels can be connected directly to downspouts from the roof of a house or garage. When the barrels become full the water can be automatically diverted back to the downspout or can be connected to additional barrels for larger storage capacity.

The Dallas County Soil and Water Conservation Commission is selling rain barrels for their scholarship fund and environmental education programs. The barrels being sold are made from food grade high-density polyethylene that was previously used for shipping food. They have been washed with a pH neutral soap and rinsed. They barrels come with the needed valves and screened lids to keep out insects and debris. They are available in four colors, blue, gray, black, and terra-cotta.

The Perry Public Library and the NRCS office in Adel have a rain barrels on display and brochures that give more information and prices. If you are interested in getting a rain barrel contact the Dallas County Soil and Water conservation District office at 1918 Green Street in Adel or telephone the office at 515-993-3413 Ext. 300. Perry residents can contact Commissioner Ray Harden at 465-5504 for more information and assistance with delivery. He will also have rain barrels for sale at Perry’s Farmers Market on Thursday afternoons.

I have four rain barrels to store water for use in my garden during dry times and the system keeps 220 gallons of water out of the city sewer system. It may not seem like a lot but it is one small thing that home owner can do to help keep Iowa’s streams clean.