A-Squared Goes For Rain Barrels Too

A few weeks back we saw the LED street lights going up in Ann Arbor Michigan USA. Now this same City is experimenting with rain barrels on a large scale. That's a good thing. Rain barrels not only provide free water for gardening, they reduce the intensity and volume of storm water runoff, and provide an emergency water storage option in the event of a extended drought. Are you listening Atlanta?

Volunteers from the Huron River Watershed Council rolled out the barrels Sunday afternoon - rain barrels, that is. After selling 700 of them in just three weeks through pre-orders, Laura Rubin, executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council, was ecstatic. So ecstatic, in fact, that she promised another sale next year.

Also thrilled with the ability to purchase the environmentally friendly, 60-gallon, dark green barrels were the about 450 customers who arrived at the Huron High School parking lot to pick them up after paying a bargain price of $75.

But people from Ann Arbor weren't the only ones purchasing the rain barrels. They came from all over southeast Michigan - including Chelsea, Ypsilanti, Redford, Detroit, St. Clair Shores, Brighton and Howell.

One added impetus for the rain barrel purchases is that Ann Arbor must repair it's aging storm sewer infrastructure. To help pay for that, an annual charge is being assessed based on home size and impervious area. See a copy of the press release explaining the new rate structure here. Installing an on-site catchment helps mitigate that up-front barrel and appurtenance cost by over 7 bucks per year.

Once the rain barrel(s) installation is finished, all you need for drought readiness is a water treatment capability. Activated carbon filtration is important because rain coming down from a residence roof often flows over asphalt treated felt roofing; and, killing or filtering out the bacteria is important because of bird droppings and dead bugs on the roof. Don't drink rain barrel water without first filtering and treating adequately!

Most any pour-through water pitcher filter would do the job.

In a pinch you could make your own sand filter by drilling a group of holes around the center of the bottom of a 5-gallon plastic pailand spreading a layer of washed gravel over the entire bottom; then add a layer of window screen or two. Over the screen, spread some washed sand, inter-layered with activated carbon. You can use the carbon sold for aquariums at the pet store. Make the sand about a foot deep. Put an old towel over the top of the sand that you'll pour water onto.

This is not weird by the way. The basic water treatment technology at city water departments is a sand filter bed.

For drinking purposes, after filtration you need to either treat the water with a biocide like chlorine bleach or iodine tablets, or else boil to kill any microorganisms.

If you're just using it to flush the toilet or water plants, no filtering or sterilizing needed.

Via::M Live, "People line up to buy rain barrels" Image credit::LEISA THOMPSON/ANN ARBOR NEWS

Tags: Ann Arbor | Drought | Michigan