Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RainBarrels Part5: Pros and Cons

taking the advantage or taking a risk?

After taking in all this information the real questions are: Why should you have a rain barrel? What benefits do rain barrels offer? What are some of the issue you may face?

Pros for Rain Barrels:
  1. Better for your plants. Rainwater is naturally softened water, free of chlorine, fluoride, lime, calcium and other chemicals. While your cities water might add these items to make the water safer to drink, these chemicals are not great for your plants.
  2. Saves you money. Currently (2011) it would save you about $0.02 per gallon. It is estimated that  average 40% of the house hold water is for lawn and garden. While you may only paid $500 a year, than 40% would be $200 a year.
  3. Better for times of drought. Wisconsin doesn't usually have drought water restrictions. I would say that having rain barrels would in a small way relieve the water needs of your water treatment. If you have water restrictions, then this might be your only option. 
  4. Better for your house.  28,400 gallons each year might explain why my sump pump is always running. By storing rain water and properly diverting excess water away from your house, you help preserve your foundation and reduce the load on your sump pump. For myself, this resolved issues of my basement having wet spots.
  5. Bragging rights for water conservation. While I am not currently a major fan of the 'Green Movement', there is something to be said by leading by example. That and bragging how you are saving around $200.
  6. Helps water treatment. While there is an argument to be made that rain barrels help Wisconsin reduce the amount to rain water that goes into our sewer system. I encourage you to read this PDF (Rain Barrels - CSO). Page 393, "The study showed that an extensive rain barrel program would not have an impact on CSOs (combined sewer overflow)..." 

Cons for Rain Barrels:
  1. More work than city water. It may not be a lot more work, but there is some work. Depending what you get and how much you pay, you may have to build your own water barrel. If your area snows or gets colder then 32F , you will need to empty and move your barrel every winter. You will need to clean the filter and at the end of a season clean the barrels.
  2. Cost. Time is money. If you buy pre-made 50 gallon rain barrel might be about $200. The 145 gallon i built was about $100. Still more expensive than a $20 garden connected to your cities water.
  3. Rain Barrel issues. You might have issues with diverting excess water, mosquitoes, or where to place your rain barrels.
  4. Not a replacement for city water. I highly recommend you do not drink water that is from your rain barrels. I have heard of people using filtering systems ensure the water is safe to drink, but do your own research.

In Summary
If you are into gardening, I highly recommend you use some type rain capturing system. There are too many benefits and too little excuses not to do it. Giving your plants a better water source, saving your some money, and making the earth a little better.