By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Biosphere Blockparty was a Conservation Hit!
The Wetland Explorer
gbtribune news logo anvil app

The average American uses 320 gallons of water a day, and out of that, 30% is used for the outdoors. That means there are almost 100 gallons used to water lawns, gardens, and other landscaping features. Water is quickly becoming a limited natural resource. There are more than 326 million trillion gallons of water on Earth, yet only 1% is fresh and available for human consumption. Water is unevenly distributed among the world’s population. Today, more than 1 billion people lack access to safe, clean drinking water. Just 10 countries share 60% of the world’s natural, renewable water resources, and that number is getting worse.

By installing a rain barrel, you can redirect water from your roof to your landscaping or garden. The average rainfall of one inch within a 24 hour period can produce more than 700 gallons of water that runs off the roof of a typical house. Much of this water runs from gutters onto surfaces that do not allow water to soak into the ground, like the impervious surfaces of concrete, asphalt, and compacted soil.

Runoff also collects and transports soil, pet waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, and other pollutants. This water is draining directly into nearby creeks, streams, and rivers, without receiving treatment at sewage plants. As this polluted water enters our local waterways, it can harm wildlife and degrade the quality of water for plants and fish. Using a rain barrel is one way to decrease your household’s impact and become a good steward of your watershed.

Thanks to a Project Learning Tree and Sustainable Forestry Initiative GreenWorks Grant, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center recently helped 36 families and two area schools construct rain barrels. At our Biosphere Blockparty, families received a food-grade barrel and the hardware to collect 55 gallons of rainwater. Rainwater has more vitamins and minerals than that from the tap, so plants love it! It also saves the homeowner money in the end. When installing a barrel, choose a flat spot near a gutter downspout. You should include an overflow pipe with a hose to direct excess water away from your foundation. Prevent insects like mosquitoes from entering your barrel by placing screen over any openings.  This will also keep leaves and other debris from clogging your barrel. Gravity can help water leave the barrel, so height can assist with this.  Pumps can help provide pressure for using the water to be used for sprinklers on the lawn. Most plastic barrels will not survive the Kansas winter, so be sure to empty and bring them in before freezing temps.

We only have one planet. The EPA estimates that one rain barrel allows people to save 1,300 gallons of water and save a homeowner $35 a month during the summer months. Bring a rain barrel into your yard and make every drop count.