Green Wednesday: Is It More Eco-Friendly to Use Rain Barrels or Let the Water Run Off?

From on September 17, 2008 in Green Remodeling

rain barrelsHere in the Northwest, we Ducks and Beavers have though a lot more about saving water in recent years. In researching water conservation, I wanted to know more about rain barrels. They seem to be a perfect way to use water that would normally just run off my roof while my veggie garden only received a spatter from that flash storm we just had.

While I was researching best buys and how-to’s, I learned a great deal about how serious water conservation is and how dangerous stormwater run off has become. Not only is the Northwest experiencing drought; most of our country is in serious trouble. Should the stormwater run off be allowed to flow back into the creeks and lakes to benefit watersheds? Will it help our water supplies? I’d say “yes” if the stormwater was just running over or soaking into the ground as it did 100 years ago. Today that water comes in contact with a wide array of problems before it hits that creek or lake:

  • It starts with your roof, then your driveway, over the side walk around your neighborhood, down the streets you drive on, and through the gutters and sewers along those streets.
  • On its way, it picks up various chemicals, oils, fertilizers, animal waste, and others waste products.
  • Add that to the sediments and dead plant life along the way, and the creek and lake is now completely polluted, making the perfect place to breed algae and collect poisons, critically damaging the wildlife and plant life that rely on the watersheds in the areas we live.

Look at what the EPA says about storm water run off at EPA: Stormwater Program, and get a different view of the importance of our watersheds and how we can help preserve them. The biggest point of advice? Water conservation. I’m now even more convinced that water conservation is necessary and the rain barrel sounds even better than it had prior to my research. About one inch of rain run off from an average rooftop will give over 600 gallons of water, more than enough to fill a rain barrel several times, giving me plenty of water for my veggies. But there are many more things a rain barrel can do to contribute besides collecting water for your veggies, trees, and lawn. In addition to saving you money, for example, the collected water you use for your garden can help recharge the groundwater.

A rain barrel for my area is eco-friendly and makes good sense during the dry years here in the Northwest. However, this isn’t the case for many other areas in the country. Find out what’s really best for your area, and try your best to conserve during these drought-stricken days.