Rain Barrels: Harvesting the Heavens Saving Streams


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Matt Berres is the Director of Maintenance Operations for Greenbelt Homes Inc. (GHI). He is responsible for developing and implementing GHI’s stormwater management program and supporting efforts to promote sustainability throughout the coop. He has led efforts to encourage rain barrel usage in Greenbelt and designed and implemented numerous bioretention rain gardens in the community. Prior to joining GHI, Matt led watershed education and restoration programs for the Potomac Conservancy, a regional non-profit dedicated to protecting the Potomac River watershed. Matt will talk about GHI’s rain barrel program and its other storm water management activities to reduce the coop’s pollution impact on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

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  • Rain Barrels are systems designed to capture and store rainwater coming off a roof, usually attached to a downspout. They consist of a storage container (usually plastic), a system for diverting downspout water into the barrel, and an overflow that returns to the downspout or diverts water safely away from the house to percolate into the soil.They should also have the following:
    Durable, rot resistant construction.
    Opaque containers to discourage bacteria/algae growth.
    Kid, pet, and pest-proof openings.
    Valves for hose attachment.
    Screens and/or filters to keep debris out of the barrel.
    Rain caught (gallons) = (inches of rain) x .6* x (portion of building footprint)
    For example, if your home's footprint is 1,400 ft2, and you want to know the amount of water that comes from a 1/4" (.25") rain event, you would solve the following: Rain caught (gallons) = (.25) x (.6) x (1,400), or 210 gallons. However, storage is limited to the capacity of your system. Added capacity helps your system weather the dry spells. Capacity and cost are directly related: decide how much you want to spend for savings.
    *One inch of rain falling on a square foot of surface yields approximately .6 gallons of water.
  • Rain Barrels: Harvesting the Heavens Saving Streams

    1. 1. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Rain Barrels: Harvesting the Heavens Saving Streams
    2. 2. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels A cooperative project of Greenbelt Homes, Inc. and the City of Greenbelt Woodlands Committee, and Sustainable Design and Practices Committee Greenbelt Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (Green ACES)
    3. 3. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels What you will learn What are rain barrels Why are they important Where to order a barrel How to install and maintain a barrel Other cool stream saving practices
    4. 4. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels What is a Watershed? A watershed is the area of land that drains to a particular point along a stream
    5. 5. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Hydrologic Cycle *Impervious cover produces*Impervious cover produces 16 times16 times moremore stormwater runoff than forest.stormwater runoff than forest.
    6. 6. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Stream Quality Is Related to Impervious Cover < 5%< 5% Impervious CoverImpervious Cover 8-108-10% 2020% 30%30% > 65%> 65% From Center for Watershed Protection
    7. 7. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels 10% 40%25% Good Fair Poor Watershed Impervious Cover StreamQuality 60% 100% Sensitive Impacted Damaged Impervious Cover Model Severely Damaged Center for Watershed Protection Relationship Between Impervious Cover and Stream Quality
    8. 8. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Pollutants and Problems Nutrients Sediment Trash Heavy metals (ex. Zinc, copper, lead) Pesticides/Herbicides Oil and grease Thermal
    9. 9. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Pollutants Continued
    10. 10. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Fresh Water At A Premium Water Planet: 70% of Earth is water, but… • Only 2.5% is freshwater. • Much is not accessible. If all earth's water was a 5-litre container, available fresh water would not fill a teaspoon! Where we use it: • Household use 10% - as much as 40% for outdoor use • Agriculture 70% - more than 50% of this is wasted. • Industry 20% By 2025, 2.8 Billion people on planet earth with face water scarcity.
    11. 11. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Rain Barrels to the Rescue Why a rain barrel? • Collect “free” rain water • Water plants with non-chlorinated, renewable supply • Save money on water bills • Reduce runoff to streams • Save the planet!
    12. 12. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Rain Barrels Commercially Manufactured
    13. 13. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Rain Barrels Rainsaver, Raincube & Pepper Barrel
    14. 14. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Rain Barrels Commercially Made – “Urban” Brand
    15. 15. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Homemade Rain Barrels Food & Soap Containers
    16. 16. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Our Rain Barrels Rain Box Riverside s
    17. 17. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels GHI Barrel Details Rain Box Size: 75 gal. 20”x24”x46” 2” overflow Ball valve tap w/ 3/4” threaded hose connector Black color Riversides Size: 132 gal. 27”dia x 51” 4” overflow Brass ball valve tap w/ 3/4” threaded hose connector Dual stage filter Multiple color choices
    18. 18. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Riversides Color Choices Multiple Color Options for City Residents
    19. 19. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Why GHI Barrels Heavy-duty construction Freeze-safe Child-safe Mosquito-safe filters (<500micron) Easy to clean and operate Sized for Maryland Rains! • Large high capacity downspout input • High volume overflow and storm event by-pass
    20. 20. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Roof tops and Rainfall How “big” a barrel do I need? The Rain flow math: V = A² x R x 0.90 x (7.5 gal./ft.³) where V = volume of water in gallons, A² = surface area of roof in square feet, R = rainfall in feet
    21. 21. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Roof tops and Rainfall How “big” a barrel do I need? roof area (approx) area / downspout (approx) water volume / downspout (approx) from ½" rainfall from 1" rainfall 400 sq. ft 200 sq. ft. 57 gallons 113 gallons 460 sq. ft 230 sq. ft. 65 gallons 129 gallons 520 sq. ft 260 sq. ft. 73 gallons 146 gallons 560 sq. ft 280 sq. ft. 79 gallons 158 gallons 710 sq. ft 355 sq. ft. 100 gallons 200 gallons 800 sq. ft 200 sq. ft. (avg. 4 downspouts) 57 gallons 113 gallons
    22. 22. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Installing your Rain Barrel Site barrel near where you plan to use it. Start with a firm (and level) foundation. • Paver bricks, cinder blocks, compacted earth • Full rain barrels can weigh >600-1,000 pounds! Use hard pipe to connect. • Flexible downspout extenders tend to clog, blow in the wind, and trap water that attracts mosquitoes. Allow room for cleaning filters.
    23. 23. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Barrel Maintenance After a storm • Check water level • Check/clean filters for debris Once a month • Check/clean filter screens and clear leaves – Especially in spring and fall! Once a year • Completely drain barrel to flush out fine particles. • Check barrel, screens, spigots for wear or leaks. Winter Care • Drain about ½ of water from barrel to reduce freeze risk • Turn barrel collection to “bypass” – if equipped.
    24. 24. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Other River Friendly Ideas
    25. 25. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Rain Gardens: What are they? Rain gardens represent innovative approaches and natural garden designs which make efficient use of rainfall and native plants to prevent pollution and erosion, and recharge essential groundwater supplies.
    26. 26. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Simple Rain Garden Backyard Bed
    27. 27. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels GHI Rain Gardens Before and After
    28. 28. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels GHI Rain Gardens Before and After
    29. 29. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Redirecting Downspouts Hinged Downspout Extensions
    30. 30. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Cisterns
    31. 31. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Permeable Pavers Driveways – Roads & Parking - Patios
    32. 32. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels Next Steps Take a rainy day walk • Look for areas where water ponds. • Watch how water flows across your yard, neighborhood. • Check out drainage channels and local streams during a storm. Order your rain barrel!
    33. 33. www.ghi.coop/rainbarrels For More Information: Matt Berres Director, Operations Greenbelt Homes Inc. mberres@ghi.coop www.ghi.coop/content/rain-barrels www.ghi.coop/content/rain-gardens www.rainscapes.org www.riversides.org/ www.epa.gov/owow/ Other Good Websites