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Rain barrels help you, environment

June 07, 2009|By JUDY NIEDZIELSKI

By connecting one or more rain barrels to a downspout on your house, you can lower your water costs and help local streams and the Chesapeake Bay at the same time.

A rain barrel collects water from your roof and stores it. Rainwater provides a supply of soft water containing no chlorine, lime, calcium or other dissolved salts. It's great for watering garden plants, washing your car, topping off the swimming pool, or watering that tree you planted earlier this spring.

Also, using a rain barrel diverts water from storm drains, decreasing the impact of flooding and erosion.

Lawn and garden watering make up nearly 40 percent of a typical household's water use during the summer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a rain barrel can save homeowners about 1,300 gallons of water during summer. Saving water not only helps protect our environment; it saves households money and energy by reducing the demand for treated tap water.

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In short, rain barrels are a low-cost way to reduce runoff, reduce household water usage and save you money while improving the quality of streams and neighborhoods.

The Claud Kitchens Outdoor School at Fairview, which is part of the Washington County Public School system, offers rain barrels for sale. Completely assembled rain barrels may be ordered by calling the school at 301-766-8138 or e-mailing timabe@wcboe.k12.md.us. Rain barrels cost $40.

For more information on rain barrels and how to assemble one at home, go to the Washington County Forest Conservancy District Board's Web site, www.wcfb.sailorsite.net, click on Library_N_Links, then the link for building a rain barrel.

Judy Niedzielski is chairwoman of the Washington County Forest Conservancy District Board. The Washington County Forest Conservancy District Board promotes forest conservation within Washington County and provides information about seasonally related activities that individuals can carry out to benefit themselves, our community and the plants and animals that share our world.

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