Carolina Clear: Using rain barrels

MYRTLE BEACH, SC - Terasa Lott, Florence-based water resources agent for Clemson Extension, joined News13 NOW on Tuesday morning to talk about rain barrels. The interview with her was part of the Carolina Clear campaign - an effort to educate and involve the public in waterway protection and pollution prevention.

Watch the video to learn more about rain barrels. Lott also provided the following information:

Rainwater harvesting uses rain barrels or cisterns to store rooftop runoff for later use.  Essentially you can save up your rainy days.  The water can be used for any outdoor water use such as watering potted plants.  Rainwater harvesting also helps keep pollution out of our local waterways.

What is rainwater harvesting?
  • An age-old practice of collecting water from rooftops and storing it for later use.
How is the water stored?
  • Rain barrels are most commonly seen at the residential scale. They hold 100 gallons or less.
  • Cisterns are essentially giant rain barrels holding more than 100 gallons – usually thousands of gallons. The size of a cistern depends on amount of rainfall at the location, roof area, and water needs.
How much rain does it take to fill an average rain barrel?

Not as much as you would think.  Each square foot of roof generates .6 inches of rain per 1" storm.  So a 1,000 square foot roof would generate 600 gallons of water.  Assuming the roof drains evenly to 4 corners with downspouts, that would be 150 gallons per downspout in a 1 inch storm.  Most residential rain barrels hold about 50 gallons that 1,000 sq foot house with a 1 inch rain storm could actually fill 12 50-gallon rain barrels.  If they had just one barrel, it would take about .3 inches of rain to fill it.

What are the benefits of rainwater harvesting?
  • Water & Energy Conservation: Reduces demand on municipal water supplies, conserves water and can save money.
  • Water Quality: Reduces stormwater runoff, helping to protect downstream water quality.
  • Landscape Needs: Collected water can be used for non-potable activities such as irrigation, washing cars, bathing pets and filling bird baths.
How can people learn more about rainwater harvesting?
  • Clemson has produced a Rainwater Harvesting for Homeowners manual that provides additional information including step-by-step instructions for constructing three different rain barrels designs.

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