The old-fashioned rain barrel has made a comeback for residential and commercial applications. RiverSides, a nonprofit Canadian organization dedicated to creating river-friendly communities, produced 750 rain barrels for the District of Columbia’s RiverSmart Homes program.
RiverSides aims to protect rivers by reducing runoff pollution from individual properties through education and providing the tools people need to make the connection between personal action and healthy rivers, according to the organization’s website.
The District’s Department of Environment selected in 2006 the innovative RiverSafe barrel, which was manufactured at the Ellicott City, Md., facilities of C.R. Daniels, as its preferred residential cistern design.
Hooked to a building’s downspouts, rain barrels prevent stormwater pollution of local waterways, keep runoff out of municipal sewer systems and can provide a source of non-potable water for domestic use.
The barrels are custom-designed from one-piece, UV-stabilized, recycled polyethylene and hold 132 gallons, more than twice the capacity of standard barrels.
“These are top-of-the-line barrels that capture two times the amount of roof runoff of a normal rain barrel,” said Steve Saari, watershed protection specialist for the D.C. Department of the Environment. “They are very well engineered, being more mosquito-proof and easier to maintain than conventional barrels.”