VALPARAISO | Now that the weather finally has warmed enough that we can expect less snow and more rain, Valparaiso announced it is again offering rain barrels for residents.
An inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof can produce 600 gallons of water, more than enough to fill a 55-gallon rain barrel. The barrel enables people to make use of the water while helping the environment.
"Rain barrels have many advantages for residents and the environment," Mingyan Zhou, the city's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) coordinator, said. "Not only can rainwater save money by providing water for plants, but collecting rainwater also helps reduce the amount of stormwater runoff carried to the storm sewers. Rainwater is free of minerals, chloride, fluoride and other chemicals, so it's great for plants."
An estimated 40 percent of the water used during the summer goes for watering lawns and gardens, so rain barrels can lower the cost of keeping the lawn green. The barrels have a screw-on lid with one-inch holes and a screen to keep out debris and mosquitoes. There's also an overflow hose connection, a drain valve and a connection for additional rain barrels.
The barrels can be used with a garden hose or drip tubing attached to the spigot at the bottom of the barrel. The barrel should be placed on a flat, stable platform so the water can be drained into a bucket for transport to plants.
The city has 200 barrels available for $20 to anyone living within the city and paying the stormwater fee. A $51 fee is charged for additional barrels or for anyone living outside the service area. Orders must be placed by May 26 for pick up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 31 at Central Park Plaza. For more information, visit valpo.us/MS4.