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Generally sized between 50 and 60 gallons, a rain barrel is a container connected to a downspout on your home, office or garage. Its purpose is to capture some of the precipitation that lands on the roof and store it for future use. A barrel is often a container recycled from a previous life in the food industry, or it can be a brand new container made for this purpose. If you use a recycled container make sure that it is food grade. Do not use a barrel that previously held chemicals or other possible toxins.
Using harvested rainwater can reduce the amount of treated water pulled from the community’s water supply. Consider all the ways you use water outside: washing your bike or car, watering potted plants, irrigating a landscaped bed, or any number of other activities. The water you use for these does not need to be potable, or, treated to the standard of drinking water. Captured rainwater will do the job just as well. In addition, rainwater captured in a barrel can still be used outdoors even when we’re under drought restrictions.
The two most important considerations in setting up your rain barrel are a stable base and proper overflow control. Water is very heavy, over 8 pounds per gallon. A full 55-gallon barrel can weigh over 450 pounds! It’s important that you level the ground under your barrel and create a secure base using a material such as concrete blocks.
Your barrel should come with an overflow outlet installed near the top. This is where excess water will escape should your barrel start to overflow. The simplest method to deal with overflow is to attach a long hose or tubing to the overflow outlet and direct it well away from the foundation of your home. Another option is to use a short piece of tube and connect multiple barrels together. This is called "chaining" and increases the amount of your rainwater storage while decreasing the chance of overflows.
Once you have a secure base, determine how high up you will need to cut the downspout (most downspouts can easily be cut with a hacksaw). Once cut, you can leave as is, or add a flexible gutter piece to direct flow to the barrel opening.
No, a barrel purchased from any vendor is eligible, so long as a valid receipt is presented. We encourage you to look first to local vendors who have a variety of styles in a range of prices. You can find a rain barrel at most gardening stores.
You may receive up to two $30 rebates.
$30 is the maximum rebate; a qualified barrel bought for less will be rebated for the purchase amount.
No, homemade barrels do not qualify.
You may contact our local soil and water conservation (Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District) district at 434-975-0224.
Non-potable water is not suitable for drinking. It should not be used for food preparation, cleaning dishes, bathing, or other instances where it may be ingested.
Please return rebate forms (PDF) to:Water Efficiency Program Coordinator305 4th Street, NWCharlottesville, VA 22903Fax: 434-970-3659Email Water Conservation