Posted Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Don’t let your water bill put you over a barrel. Instead, the Morris County Soil Conservation District suggests you use that barrel to conserve one of our most vital natural resources – water.

Joseph Dunn, Soil Conservation District Manager, said his agency is again offering discounted rain barrels to homeowners to help them capture and store rainwater from their home’s roof gutter system for later use.

“A rain barrel can reduce your water bill by reducing consumption,” Dunn said. “It can also help reduce pollution from the chemicals that water run off picks up before the water washes into our streams and rivers.”

The 55-gallon rain barrels being offered by the Soil Conservation District are designed for watering flowers, vegetables, shrubs and trees either by connecting a garden hose to a spigot on the rain barrel or by filling a watering can.

“It only takes a quarter of an inch of rain run off from an average roof to fill a barrel,” Dunn said. “One inch of rainfall on a 1,000-square-foot roof will yield about 600 gallons of water. By using a rain barrel, we can conserve this vital resource and still keep our plants and shrubs watered, even if we live in a community that has imposed restrictions on the outdoor use of water.”

This is the second year the rain barrels have been offered by the Soil Conservation District. Last year, the agency sold more than 60 of the containers.

The rain barrels are made of safe, recycled food-grade plastic for extended use, and the top easily opens for maintenance, Dunn said.

While commercially advertised rain barrels can sell for $125 to $300, Dunn said, the Soil Conservation District is offering them for $85 pre-assembled. A do-it-yourself version is $65, and comes complete with detailed instructions and all of the attachments that are needed for assembly, including hole saw bits.

According to Dunn, installation simply involves cutting a 2” hole into the downspout and inserting a hose that runs into the rain barrel. The hose can be easily removed for winter storage, and a rubber plug that covers the hole when the rain barrel is not in use is included.

The rain barrels may be ordered by calling the Soil Conservation District office at 973-285-2953 or by e-mailing the office at [email protected]