Each rain barrel


What is this?

A rain barrel is a large container placed at the end of a downspout each spring to collect rainwater from the roof of your house or garage. The water is typically used to water plants, wash tools or rinse muddy paws or boots. Rain barrels come in many styles and colors, and most are the size of a curbside recycling bin. After your initial investment, you are collecting water to use as a free resource!

Cisterns and below-deck ‘bladders’ are related options. Learn more about those here:



How do I do this?

On my own

  1. Here is a video on how to install a rain barrel.
  2. Check to see if your village offers a rebate program for homeowners who install rain barrels. Some do.
  3. There are many styles of rain barrels available. See the diagram below (note that the spigot is much too high on the barrel – how would you get the water out?) Make sure the one you select has these features:
    • A fine-screen cover on any openings to prevent mosquito breeding.
    • A tight-fitting lid to keep children and animals out.
    • A spigot or hose connection near the bottom to allow you to easily use most of the rain water collected.
    • An overflow pipe or hose near the top, to allow excess rain water to drain away from your building once the barrel fills  - one light rain can easily overfill your barrel.
  4. Rain barrels are heavy when full (500 pounds or more) so place it on a level and secure surface where a climbing child is not able to pull it down.
  5. In fall, disconnect and empty your rain barrel before the first hard freeze or it will crack.  Replace the original downspouts.
  6. Do not drink water from rain barrels. The water may have picked up contaminants from the roof. In the vegetable garden, be sure to apply the water only to the soil, not the vegetables.  Do not employ overhead irrigation that would cause the water to come in contact with the edible portion of the plant.  Rain barrel water can be safely used in the flower garden and on trees or shrubs.


Another helpful practice is to install a rain garden or simply re-direct downspouts to gardens or low or flat portions of your property away from building foundations where it can soak into the ground rather than enter the stormwater system.


Hire some help

We are not aware of vendors who specifically install rain barrels, but a good handyman should be able to help you.



Why is this important?

If you are able to collect rainwater and use it, you are helping to reduce the amount of stormwater going to our lakes and streams where it oftentimes leads to local flooding and water pollution.

Have you ever thought about where the rainwater on your property goes? In days gone by, most rainwater soaked into the ground but today that option is frequently cut off by buildings, parking lots, streets and even heavily compacted lawns. So the water gets channelled – quickly – into streets, sewers and pipes where it's whisked off to the nearest wetland, lake or stream. The streams can hold only so much before spilling their banks, which is part of why we sometimes see erosion and flooding here in Lake County.

A one-inch rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof yields over 600 gallons of water, so consider having more than one barrel. Rain barrels can be at each downspout and/or hooked together in a system to collect larger amounts of water.

Collected rain water is treated as a precious gift in many parts of the world.  More and more Americans are adopting this view as it makes for good conservation and economic sense.

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