Contact: Patty McQuillan
Date: February 13, 2008
Phone: (919) 733-5027 x232 

Rain Barrels Help Save Water 

 RALEIGH - A quarter inch of rain will fill a rain barrel to the brim.  That water can be used to water lawns and gardens, fill bird baths, flush toilets, and many other water-saving ideas.

Rain barrels can be purchased from most lawn and garden centers, from some cities' solid waste services section, and from the Internet.  They range in price from as low as $27 to $120 or more, depending on the size and style.

Top of rain barrelMost rain barrels are black which helps prevent algae from growing in the summertime.  There is a screen over the top of the barrel to keep mosquitoes out.  A few drops of vegetable or mineral oil will also prevent mosquitoe larva from forming. Just put the oil in a spray bottle and lightly spray the water's surface to sufficate any mosquito larva.

In order to work, a home must have rain gutters.  The water that streams through the gutter pours into the rain barrel instead of onto the ground.  A section of the down gutter needs to be removed and replaced with either a shorter gutter section or a flexible downspout.  Aim the downspout onto the top of the barrel.

Down spoutAn overflow valve keeps water from gushing out of the top of the barrel.  A hose could be connected to the overflow valve, and more water could be collected in a separate container, if so desired.

Putting cement blocks under the rain barrel will elevate it so that a bucket can be used under the spigot at the bottom of the rain barrel.  A hose can also be attached to the spigot, but remember that the water will only flow down.  Also, the top of the rain barrel comes off easily to dip the bucket into the barrel.

To share your tips, uses, successes or questions, you can e-mail the Dept. of Crime Control and Public Safety's Public Affairs office at

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