Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels
To purchase a rain barrel like the one shown above, contact the Winnebago County Soil and Water Conservation District at

4833 Owen Center Road
(just south of Elmwood Rd.)
Rockford, Illinois, 61101
Phone: (815) 965-2392 x3
How do Rain Barrels help manage stormwater?
In many urban locations roof runoff is routed directly into the sewer system or adjacent areas that are designed to carry the flow away as swiftly as possible. By installing a rain barrel, it is possible to disconnect these downspouts from the sewer system or capture the runoff that would otherwise be lost and save the rain water for other uses. A rain barrel is a temporary storage system for stormwater. The water captured by the barrel can then be used to irrigate your lawn, flower beds and garden or wash your car. By using a rain barrel you will save money and water by utilizing an ample supply of free 'soft water'.

How do I design a Rain Barrel for my home?
Rain barrels are designed to accumulate and store runoff from small to moderate storms. A rain barrel is composed of a large drum, hose, pipe and hose couplings, a screen grate and other off the shelf items. Rain barrels can be purchased from garden supply stores or they can be easily built with supplies purchased from a hardware store. Information on where to purchase a rain barrel or assembling one yourself can easily be found online.

The first step in installing a rain barrel at your home is to decide where to place the rain barrel. Many people place their rain barrels near an existing downspout as it simplifies installation. But also be sure you consider how far the location of the barrel is from your plants, gardens, and flowerbeds. You want to be sure you can easily utilize the water that is captured in the rain barrel.

Once you have selected the location for your rain barrel, make sure the area is level and free from any rocks, roots, or debris that would cause your barrel to rock from side to side. Also be sure to rake the area in order to remove any leaves that could cause the ground to be soft and unsecure. It is also recommended that prior to placing your rain barrel in its selected location, construct a platform out of cinder blocks, wood, or flat landscape/paver type stones. Raising your rain barrel a few inches off the ground will give you more water pressure when using a hose and make it easier for you to reach the faucet or fill a watering can.

Now that your platform is constructed, place the rain barrel in its location and measure where you need to cut or disassemble your downspout. Often times you can disassemble the downspout at the gutter by removing the bolts or rivets. Replace the portion of the metal downspout removed with a flexible downspout extender. Once securely attached to the gutter, place the downspout extender in the barrel.

Where and how can Rain Barrels be located?
Scale: Lot
Applications: Retrofit, New, Preventative, Roof
Effectiveness: Runoff Volume Control

Rain barrels vary in cost based on size, material and expected lifetime. You can expect to pay between $40 and $150. Purchasing materials and assembling your own rain barrel instead of buying an already assembled rain barrel can reduce this cost.

There are several easy ways to routinely maintain your rain barrel in order to ensure its usefulness for a long period of time. Your barrel should be covered in the warm months to prevent mosquito breeding and should be drained before winter to prevent freezing that could crack the barrel. A mesh filter at the top of the rain barrel will not only prevent insect entry but will also capture debris such as leafs or twigs.


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