Posted by: jdantos | April 1, 2010

Rain barrel: I get a math lesson edition

Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel

Last weekend we installed a rain barrel.  After a couple of months of dreaming, and a couple of weeks hemming and hawing over models, we just bought one from Fragers, and I hooked it up to the downspout before Monday-Tuesday’s rain.  When we were first looking at different kinds annd brands, I was convinced most models were going to be way too big and just out of scale for the back patio, and kept going smaller and smaller…  and we finally agreed on this 75-gallon version (left)  which barely fit in the trunk of the car.  I dutifully set it up, hacksawing and bending the downspout  over the door frame.  It looked big but not disproportionate, but I looked at the overflow spout at the top with in the back in disbelief, like “yeah, I doubt we’d really ever need that.”

Then it rained steadily on Sunday night, and the rain barrel was overflowing in 10 minutes.  Went out to check on it to be sure my downspout wasn’t leaking, and water was spewing out the overflow spout and onto the patio like it was coming out the hose, open full.  I was amazed, but if you think about it, almost the whole surface area of our roof drains to it…

It just made me realize what an amazing quantity of water a rainstorm is… and how our 75 gallons is like nothing…

The purpose wasn’t to offset water shortages, the strategy was just to a) collect water so we don’t have to use treated, grade-A drinkable water on our plants, and b) help reduce peak load on the District’s water treatment system.  Strangely, I think this means that in certain situations (e.g., barrel is full, dry day, rain coming), I might end up simply discharging rainwater out the back.

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