Rain Barrels

This summer, Colorado’s ban on rain barrels was finally eased by a new law allowing residents to collect rain water. The following information, provided by Conservationco.org, gives all the important details on where to buy, who can use them and how!

Where do you get rain barrels?
Rain barrels can be found at local hardware and superstores such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware. Check your local home and garden stores as well. Amazon has a great selection with all the parts and prices range from $75-125. Colorado guidelines say your barrels can have up to 110 gallons storage total each, and that your barrel needs to be sealable to keep out breeding mosquitos. The online company Blue Barrel (www.bluebarrelsystems.com) helps you locate recycled barrels within your city and helps you set them up into a rainwater catchment system.

Who can use rain barrels under this new law?
Anyone who lives in a house or townhouse with fewer than 4 units can use a rain barrel. No permits are necessary.

How many rain barrels can I have?
Each household can have up to two rain barrels with 110 gallons of storage capacity. This is enough to help water your vegetable garden, outdoor plants, or a small lawn.

What can I use the water for?
Rain barrels can capture rainwater from roof downspouts and the water can only be used for outdoor purposes on the property from which the rainwater was captured. So, it can be used to water outdoor plants, lawns, or gardens, but cannot be used for drinking or indoor water needs.

What else do I need to install my rain barrel?
Just a gutter. In order to make the most of your rain barrel, you may want to to create a raised platform for the barrel, such as cinder blocks or a wooden pallet. The higher your platform is, the higher the water pressure coming out of the barrel will be and the easier to get a watering can under the spigot.
Depending on your gutter structure, a flexible gutter extension can be useful, and may need to be secured with screws and sealed with caulk. Don’t forget to measure your gutter and buy a downspout extension that is the right size!

How do I install a rain barrel?
Here’s a nice how-to guide from Tree People: How To Install a Rain Barrel
Blue Barrel Systems also has DIY kits or has the whole system available for sale and tips for how to set up their systems.

What do I need to do to maintain my rain barrel?
Below is some good advice from Tree People. CSU also has some helpful hints on how to keep out impurities and contaminants. And you’ll want to make sure to winterize it for our cold winters (see next question for tips)!
Once your rain barrel is installed, maintenance is easy. Simply use the water you’ve collected to water your garden and make sure the rain barrel is emptied on a regular basis. Don’t forget to double check that the rain barrel system is ready to go before a big storm!

What do I do with my rain barrel during the winter?
In Colorado, it’s not a good idea to leave your barrel set up in the winter, as water inside may freeze and damage the system. Right around the first frost, it’s time to pack it up for the winter. Adjust your gutter downspout so the water will run away from your house. Empty your barrel completely, rinse it, and let it dry. Then, either store it inside a garage or basement, or turn it upside down and leave it outside for the winter, covering it with a tarp if you have one. Make sure the spigot is open and all components are clean. In the spring, you can put it back in place and start harvesting rainwater again.

Will my rain barrel make a difference?
It may not seem like a lot, but in Colorado every drop counts. Using two rain barrels to water your plants could save up to 1,200 gallons a year, just from one household! It’s also a great way to connect to Colorado’s water supply, as using a rain barrel tunes you into the natural water cycles of our region.

For more information, check out Colorado Division of Water Resources water.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/RainwaterCollection/Pages/default.aspx

Or this link from Colorado State University- helpful tips about mosquitos and keeping the water from containments.