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Rain Barrels

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Rain barrels are a type of green infrastructure that capture rainwater from your roof and save it for when you are ready to re-use it. By keeping this water out of the sewer system, rain barrels can help prevent sewer overflows and flooding. If just one rain barrel was installed at every single family home in Schaumburg, and filled with water during a rain event, over 660,000 gallons of water would be diverted from the storm sewer system!

Some gardeners insist their plants prefer rain water because it is naturally free from chlorine, lime and calcium; so go ahead and use it to water the plants in your garden. The water in your rain barrel is run-off from your roof, so don’t use it for drinking or bathing! And, if you have a copper roof or copper rain gutters, don’t use rain barrel water to water your plants.

How do I order rain barrels?

Rain barrels are available for purchase through the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD-GC) Rain Barrel Program. You can also purchase rain barrels at Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary by calling 847-985-2100.

Where should my rain barrel be located?

Rain barrels need to be located near a downspout and on level, pervious (water-absorbing - not paved) ground. Rain barrels can overflow during heavy rain, so be sure you can direct overflow to pervious ground and away from your home and your neighbor's home. Placing your rain barrel on a stable platform will help increase water pressure and make it easier to use a watering can or bucket. Concrete blocks or pressure-treated wood work well for platforms. A full rain barrel weighs approximately 500 pounds, so make sure the platform is sturdy! If you have a favorite watering can, adjust your platform to make sure it will fit comfortably under the spigot.

Will mosquitoes breed in my rain barrel?

Place a mosquito-proof screen under the lid. When the mosquito screen is intact, and there are no leaks where mosquitoes can enter the barrel, your rain barrel should be mosquito-free. Remove accumulated water from the top of the barrel every 3-4 days during the rainy season. Mosquitoes need at least 4 days of standing water to develop larvae. If you believe mosquitoes may be breeding in your rain barrel, empty it completely and let it dry out to kill all mosquitoes.

What should I do if my rain barrel overflows?

Occasionally, your rain barrel may overflow when it fills. The overflow water will spill from the opening on the top and the overflow fitting on the side. If you want to capture the overflow, you can connect a hose to the overflow fitting to direct the water away from your house. Check on your rain barrel when it is raining to make sure the overflow is not causing flooding or flowing into your neighbor’s property. If your rain barrel is properly installed on a pervious surface, overflow water should be absorbed into the ground.

How do I maintain my rain barrel?

Regularly check your gutters, downspouts, water intake screen, mosquito screen and spigot for leaks, obstructions or debris. Also, confirm that the lid is secure so children and animals cannot fall into the rain barrel.

How do I store my rain barrel over the winter?

Drain and rinse your rain barrel before temperatures drop below freezing and turn it upside down to ensure the water is completely drained. You can store outside or bring it into your garage to make sure no water accumulates in the barrel.