In our eight years in business we have come across a wide variety of rain barrels. They run the gamut from "designer" to utilitarian, inexpensive homemade ones to very costly. The pictures below give you some ideas about what you may find. So what do you look for when picking what to purchase? Here are some suggestions that we have used in the past:
1) Durability: Will it do the job and last long enough to make the investment worthwhile?
2) Removable screened lid to keeps insects and debris out of the water;
3) Solid fixtures: brass versus plastic
4) Ease of care & off season storage: Does the lid come off for cleaning?
Other factors such as where the spigots are located, how overflow is addressed are also issues to be considered. The good thing is most barrels can be modified to make them work better for you. We are constantly looking for ways to make our rain barrels as easy to use as possible. Oh, by the way, all the pictures below are rain barrels we modified and installed at their present location. So if you need help give us a call or email, and let us make your rain harvesting experience a better one!
Yesterday we highlighted the fact that mosquitoes can transmit nasty diseases, and general steps to eliminate standing water where their larvae grow. As rain water harvesters, let's get specific: Don't let mozzies* get to your water! Our rain barrel design was inspected by an entomologist who said it is good for keeping out mosquitoes---as long as you keep the screened lid on and the overflow connected to its hose or pipe.
If you have a rain barrel or rain tank from Rain Barrels Iowa, it has an overflow: a brass hose adapter, a hose barb for corrugated hose, or a 3-inch or 4-inch diameter PVC, all of which to let extra water out in a controlled fashion when the container is full. And all of which can let mosquitoes in. From the mosquito's view, still water without predators is an ideal place to lay a few hundred eggs at once! So, if you haven't properly completed your rain harvest set up with a hose or pipe on the overflow opening, PLEASE DO THIS TODAY.
Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy. They can make you really sick.
We want you to harvest rain, to save money as well as to use all the free soft rain water you can Using rain water can take a load off the shrinking drinking water supply in addition to a load off your wallet. Rain is free and should not be wasted.
Today our focus is on safety. As rain water harvesters, let's be mindful of the hazard mosquitoes can bring -- not just you and your family but also nearby people and pets. Mosquitoes carry an increasing number of nasty diseases, so let's look at how to harvest rain while eliminating mosquito habitat.
New Orleans has actively and successfully battled mosquitoes for 50 years with a 2 million dollar budget and a highly effective team. So let's take a look at what works. New Orleans' new 50-page Zika Control Plan focuses first on eliminating habitat needed to grow more mosquitoes. You may have heard that the most dangerous mosquitoes can reproduce in water-holding containers as small as a bottle cap, and take only a week to hatch. Yep. That means we have a really good reason to clean up thoroughly, and to clean up everywhere, every week.
Other "small containers" mentioned by New Orleans Entomologist Sarah Michaels: "Pet food bowls, cans and glasses, the lids on ice chests and even the cup holders on the top of ice chests."
She said property owners should follow the same routine the city workers use when making regular neighborhood inspections:
Ever since we started Rain Barrels Iowa we have been asked "Isn't it illegal to collect water in _Fill in the blank__?" Well, the answer has been mostly NO. There may be a few isolated areas where there is a temporary ban on harvesting rain but there are now no states where it is illegal. The following link is to a Colorado news station about the passage of a law allowing people to harvest up to 110 gallons of water beginning August 10th of 2016. http://www.9news.com/news/politics/rain-barrels-could-soon-be-legal-in-colorado/114878938
As long as we were looking into this issue I found this link which gives a little more information about making use of rain water. https://www.truthorfiction.com/collecting-rainwater-is-illegal-in-some-states/
Using rain water makes sense for your plants and for your pocketbook. Rain barrels allow you to harvest naturally soft water month after month and year after year. So cheers to the people of Colorado who can soon legally join us in using one of our natural resources.
Joel Gettys is the co-founder of Rain Barrels Iowa. He is our resident gardener, product designer, chief of installation at our Rain Barrels Iowa store.