Tip of the Week! Coming Soon Rain Barrels in Your Garden

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels will soon be legal in Colorado thanks to a bill Governor Hickenlooper signed earlier this month. Following are the 5 W’s about rain barrels and a little more:

What is a rain barrel?
The law defines “rain barrel” as “a storage container with a sealable lid that is located above ground outside of a residential home and used for collecting precipitation from a downspout of a rooftop.” Households are limited to two barrels with a total capacity of 110 gallons. The rain barrel must also be equipped with a sealable lid. Mosquitos, which can carry West Nile virus, are a serious issue. Don’t create a neighborhood for them.

Who may use rain barrels?
Residents of Colorado will soon be allowed to install a rain barrel on residential properties.

When will it be legal to have rain barrels?
On August 10, 2016, rain barrels will be legal to use in Colorado.

Where may they be installed?
Rain barrels may be installed on a single-family home or multi-unit buildings with four or fewer units. On a property with residents in a townhome with 2 units, each neighbor can have one barrel, not more than 55-gallons in capacity. But you can do a lot with 55 gallons of water!

What may be watered?
You can only use the water to irrigate the residential property where the barrel is located.
The water is only allowed for non-potable, outdoor use in gardening or landscaping. Water collected from rooftops and gutters is not safe for consumption.

Why use a rain barrel?
Rain barrels offer a sustainable option for using the water that falls on your property to maintain gardens and other plants. Each time you collect the maximum 110 gallons of water, you can adequately irrigate about 180 sq. ft. of vegetable garden or lawn. While supplemental water will still be needed to maintain a vegetable garden, for example, water from the rain barrel can potentially provide half the water required during one growing season.

What else should you know?

  • Though Pinterest might have hundreds of DIY rain barrel tutorials, it is strongly recommended that consumers purchase one from a trustworthy company.
  • Repurposing something into a rain barrel can be a problem if not done properly or without forethought. For example, using a light-colored tank will allow algae to grow. And using a tank that previously held other liquids (food, drink) can result in bacteria; you don’t want to attract bugs or water your plants with sugar water.
  • Rain barrels are not a ‘set it and forget it’ form of irrigation. They require careful maintenance. Users need to check regularly for debris, clean it, replace the screen as needed, and-like any irrigation tool-winterize it.

If the water is not used up regularly, it’s important to empty it occasionally. Monitoring where any overflow ends up can help prevent flooding around the house’s foundation.

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