Habitat Improvement

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Aug 31

Rain Barrel Water - Not Just For Watering Plants!

Posted on August 31, 2017 at 9:15 AM by Allan Warren

GH Rain Barrel PhotoGig Harbor residents participate in the make-your-own-rain-barrel portion of a rain barrel workshop held last May.

For a number of years now, the District has promoted on-site rain water harvesting, most often with a rain barrel (or a cistern).  Through workshops, a raffle at the Washington State Fair, and other outreach methods, many Pierce County residents have joined the rain barrel band wagon.  Below is a first-hand account from Sharon Jamis-Graeme of Graham in which she reports on how her rain barrel got her through a tough week of home repairs.

On April 21, 2017, I arrived home to find the recently repaired water leak had not stayed repaired.  It was the second time in a week for the same area of water line.  I turned the water off at the meter to avoid wasting water and running up a large water bill.  I had been warned the incorrect type of pipe had been used for the original water line installation, so I knew it was time for a new water line from the meter to the house. 

For seven days I chose to not have running water in my house.  I used a 5-gallon bucket to bring in water from my rain barrel.  I boiled the water and let it cool before using for washing hands and dishes, some cleaning, and washing hair.  I always had a bucket filled with rain barrel water waiting in my bathtub for flushing the toilet.  I filled the kitchen sink several times a day for a convenient hand washing station.  It was camping at home.  We take for granted having water from faucets, but I learned very quickly what to have available for my daily routine.

I’ve always used the rain barrel for watering outdoor gardens and plants and sometimes indoor plants and the occasional bucket or two for handwashing outside.  I’m glad I have a rain barrel. It saved me from having to purchase water during the week I didn’t have running water in my house.  I’m planning on getting another rain barrel, connecting them together, and saving even more water for later use.

Thanks to Sharon for sharing her story.  We love to hear about creative ways homeowners are using their rain barrel water.  Let us know what you do with yours!

Local Rain Barrel Resources:  The District is partnering with the city of Buckley for a rain barrel workshop in September and another one in Fircrest in 2018.  Visit our website for eligibility requirements and other information, and to register.  Rain barrels are also featured in workshops hosted by the city of Tacoma’s Enviro House (www.cityoftacoma.org/envirohouse), and Puyallup has a rain barrel program for residents of that city (jrodriguez@ci.puyallup.wa.us).