Archive for Friday, June 16, 2006

Gardeners can capture water

City workshops outline use of rain barrels

June 16, 2006

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There's a cheap, easy way to add a few precious inches to this summer's oh-so-scarce precipitation.

"Rain barrels," said Diana Sjogren, a waste reduction and recycling specialist for the city.

Sjogren is coordinating a series of workshops aimed at touting the benefits of homeowners using barrels to capture and store rainwater for later use on the lawn or in the garden.

"The benefits are twofold," she said. "They decrease the amount of water reaching the stormwater drains, and plants like rainwater better."

Rainwater is naturally soft and free of minerals, chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals found in tap water.

The next workshops will be at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday at the Douglas County Public Works maintenance yard, 711 E. 23rd St.

"The 10 a.m. session is almost full, but we have several openings for the 8 a.m. session," Sjogren said.

A workshop put on by the city recycling department helped gardeners like Connie Spitz, rural Lawrence, put together a 55-gallon water collection barrel. Spitz's barrel in the foreground will be placed at the corner of a house to collect rainwater from the roof gutters. With a hose attached to the garden spigot at the bottom of the barrel, Spitz will be able to use the rainwater on any area of her garden.

A workshop put on by the city recycling department helped gardeners like Connie Spitz, rural Lawrence, put together a 55-gallon water collection barrel. Spitz's barrel in the foreground will be placed at the corner of a house to collect rainwater from the roof gutters. With a hose attached to the garden spigot at the bottom of the barrel, Spitz will be able to use the rainwater on any area of her garden.

Another session is set for 5:30 p.m. June 21 at the maintenance yard. For more information, call the recycling office, 832-3030, or e-mail Sjogren at dsjogren@ci.lawrence.ks.us.

Registration is $20 and includes a barrel.

"We'll show you how to do everything," Sjogren said. "It's easy. The only hard part is cutting the downspout, and that's not too hard."

The barrels are lightweight.

"I can put one in the back of my Buick with no trouble at all," Sjogren said.

Connie Spitz, an avid gardener, attended a Sjogren-led workshop Tuesday. She installed her rain barrel the next day.

"I want to save a little money and I just hated seeing all that water run off the roof and go to waste," said Spitz, who lives south of Lawrence. "Plus, my plants will be happier."

Unfortunately for Spitz's flowers, her barrel is empty so far.

"It hasn't rained yet," she said.

Comments

black_watch 9 years, 1 month ago

Observe the barrel in the picture at the top. It's covered in a fine mesh - to keep out insects and debris. If it's sealed, then mosquitos shouldn't be a problem. We disproved spontaneous generation several hundred years ago. Thank you Francesco Redi (and later Louis Pasteur).

If you make one of these, don't get the bright idea of adding chemicals to the water to keep out insects. Duh. That, more than anything, could make the water toxic to plants and pets and people alike. Keep it sealed and filtered by fine mesh, and all will be well. Be sure to clean the trap once in a while.

The picture is odd in one respect, however - most rain barrels in a city (that I've seen or read about) tend to be connected directly to one's gutter spout on the side of a residence, and don't have a full mesh covering, just a filter between the spout and the barrel. Meshing over a barrel like that will catch more falling rain in the open, yes, but will have evaporation problems. And, if the screen is compromised, then as Marion suggested, a nice big pool of stagnant water is nothing less than disease-bearing insect heaven.

Here are a couple links for those interested, who may not be able to attend the workshop.

http://www.ottawa.ca/city_services/water/efficiency/rain_barrel_en.shtml http://www.naturalrainwater.com/make_rainbarrel.htm

I've agreed with Marion on a few issues, but the above comment feels more like a blatant troll. Calm down, you're drunk. Go sleep it off. Then do some research and come back.

the Black Watch

Skeptic 9 years, 1 month ago

I doubt the mesh will keep mosquitos out. There's an inlet into the barrel somewhere that's not mesh covered and they will find there way in there.

There are non-toxic mosquito dunks available at Westlake. They use a bacterium to kill the larvae.

mom_of_three 9 years, 1 month ago

My grandparents used to have a rain barrel to water their plants. Their garden was HUGE. They usually used the water so quickly, it didn't matter. They didn't have a hose attached, either. Carried it with a bucket.

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