Rain Barrels / Rainwater Recycling

New Kent Public Utilities promotes rain barrels are a simple and effective way to collect and store non-potable water. Rain barrels also prevent storm water damage to your landscape from erosion and ground saturation. Rain barrels are best used for hand-watering and trickle irrigation of gardens and flower beds. It is not likely that rain barrels alone will satisfy the irrigation needs of a sodded lawn.

How to Estimate Your Rainwater Collection Potential

Area to be Drained (sq. ft.) x [Annual Rainfall (inches) ÷ 12] = cu. ft. of rainwater cu. ft. of rainwater x 7.48 = gallons of rainwater collection

For example, if Kent is considering installing gutters and rain barrels on his new 10 ft x 20 ft shed in Quinton, Virginia, then the estimated rainwater that he could collect is calculated like this:

Shed Area = 10 ft x 20 ft = 200 sq. ft.
New Kent County Average Annual Rainfall = 43.77 inches

200 sq. ft. x [43.77 inches ÷ 12] = 200 x 3.65 = 729.5 cu. ft. of rainwater
729.5 cu. ft. x 7.48 gals per cu. ft.=5,456.7 gals. of potential rainwater annually

That volume of water is enough to water Kent's 10 foot x 15 foot garden with over 1.5 inches of water every week for a year, more than enough to supplement the natural rainfall. At the FY2012 Utility Rates, that same amount of rainwater collected also represents an estimated savings of $31.13 in water charges and $43.23 in sewer charges, for a total of $74.36.

Just imagine the gallons that could be collected (and the money saved) if Kent harvested rainwater from the roof of his 2,000 square foot home as well!

How to Build Your Own Rain Barrel

The best rain barrels are homemade, from recycled or repurposed materials. Old trash cans or plastic drums make excellent rain barrels, but anything that can hold water can probably be converted into a rain barrel. Barrels can be connected in series for additional storage. When constructing your rain barrel, be sure to:

  • thoroughly rinse your rain barrel prior to use
  • direct and control your rain barrel overflow
  • screen your rain barrel intake, to keep out debris and mosquitos
  • elevate your rain barrel for pressure and flow
  • install the spigot several inches above the bottom of the barrel
  • level the tops of connected barrels, to prevent overflowing
two rain barrels
homemade rain barrel