A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores a portion of the rainwater that runs out of a downspout or off of a roof, keeping this runoff out of rivers and streams. A rain barrel allows for the slow release of rainwater into the ground (or collects it for later use). This simple system prevents the rapid flow of stormwater across the ground and into storm drains which often overwhelms the stormwater system. By diverting water from storm drains, the impact of runoff into streams and the Chesapeake Bay is greatly decreased which can have a significant impact on water quality. While the collected water is unsafe for drinking, it can be used for non-potable purposes like watering plants or washing cars. On average, rain barrel owners can save over 1,300 gallons of water each summer!
Follow the instructions below to build your own rain barrels or purchase a ready-made rain barrel from a hardware stores, garden center or local governments. Consider a rain garden as well. Often spots that work for a rain barrel are also good locations for a rain garden project!
Before You Start
Design and Preparation
Using Your Project
- Tips for Using Your Rain Barrel
- Water Quality: Lessons and Activities
- Water Quality Monitoring: Lessons & Opportunities
- Eco School Sustainability Pathways Lessons & Resources
- Eco School National Standards & Curriculum Alignment
- Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings
- Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative