Roll Out the Barrel
Given the hot and dry summer we’re experiencing, keeping your lawn and garden fresh, healthy and hydrated can be a costly and time-consuming chore.
But that doesn’t mean we’re not trying. In fact, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, more than 40 per cent of residential drinking water goes to watering lawns and gardens. And while many of us know that using tap water is something of an environmental no-no, it’s hard not to turn on the tap when thirsty plants and flowers are crying for a drink.
Just know that your tap water didn’t get there easily. By the time it reaches your home, it’s been tested and treated and purified and distributed via a complex system of water treatment plants that treats more than one billion litres of potable water a day in Toronto alone.
You may want to think about using a rain barrel to capture and store rainwater since it’s one of the kindest things you can do for your wallet and the world. Here’s why:
- Not only will you cut down on the quantity of water that undergoes costly and energy guzzling sewage treatment, you will also save on your water bill. The typical gardener can save 1,300 gallons of water during the growing season thanks to a rain barrel’s catch.
- During a dry summer, a rain barrel allows you a water source during times of water restrictions or drought.
- The pollutants from rainwater runoff increase the growth of algae in lakes, changing the habitat for fish and in extreme cases making bodies of water dangerous for recreational vehicles. Using a rain barrel helps reduce this runoff.
- The use of rain barrels contributes to the prevention of erosion efforts. The runoff created by rain can be an issue where land erosion is a concern.
- Your rain barrel water is one of the freshest and greenest ways to wash pets and your car. Believe it or not, but rain water is free of salt and other chemicals found in municipally treated water.
- Collecting rain water around your house helps reduce moisture so dampness, flooding and mold are reduced.
- Rainwater is good for your plants and soil as it is highly oxygenated and free of the salts, inorganic ions, and fluoride compounds contained in tap water that accumulate in the soil over time and potentially harm plant roots. Rainwater dilutes this impact, making plants more drought-tolerant, healthy, and strong.
- Keep in mind that the overflow from the rain barrel should be directed to a suitable discharge area. During winter months, remove and store your rain barrel to avoid freezing and breaking. After removing the rain barrel, add an extension to your downspout to ensure proper drainage away from your home.
You can purchase a rain barrel at just about any large home and garden supply store such as Home Depot or Lowe’s.
If you’ve been thinking about reducing your municipal water usage, you may want to gauge how much you use thanks to a city website that lets residents and businesses track their water use online. Log on today at www.toronto.ca/mywatertoronto