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A rain barrel is a catchment system that collects rainwater from your roof that would otherwise run off as drainage. Harvested water is stored in the rain barrel for future use on your garden and lawn. When it rains, the water flows from the gutter downspout directly into an attachment to the rain barrel. They usually are made of a large drum (40-60 gal), a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, and a screen grate to keep debris and insects out. They also usually have a spigot for a hose to be connected for watering. There are even dual barrel systems with an overflow feature on the first rain barrel allowing water to flow into the second barrel, hence harvesting even more water. Barrels are usually made either of plastic or wood.
Rain barrel water can be used as a water source for composting, gardens, and lawn. Using rain barrel-harvested water reduces or eliminates using treated water, which saves energy and resources required to treat water to be safe for human use. Water harvested in a rain barrel is untreated, and therefore doesn’t contain added chlorine, lime, or calcium making it ideal for gardens, flowers or potted plants. Collecting the rainwater also diverts runoff to storm water, streams, and other larger bodies of water, thus reducing blockages from grass clippings and leaves and reducing flooding in water-logged areas. It also saves residents money on their water bill.
Prices range from as little as $20 to as much as $1500! It all depends on the materials used and whether or not you do it yourself (DIY) or have someone build and install it for you. There are many websites with instructions for what materials and equipment you need to make and install one DIY.
A simple internet search will lead you to a large selection of companies, organizations, and government divisions that sell rain barrels. IDEM does not sell rain barrels, however, some Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts do. The Recycle Indiana Find Your Local SWMD page provides contact information for all the local solid waste management districts across Indiana. Many of the Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts also have information on rain barrels. The Marion County SWCD specifically does sell rain barrels.
Yes, some Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts offer workshops. Other local entities across Indiana may also have workshops.