Every week I go to Whole Foods I see these rain barrels being sold for $99 and I wonder if this is a good investment or just another "hippy" gimmick. I get the majority of my water from the filtration system connected to my refrigerator, which only costs me $30 every 6 months for as new filter. However, I wonder if I would get more benefit if I got it straight from the source.....rain? Do any of you use these barrels and/or do you think the juice is worth the squeeze?
My impression is that rain barrel water is only used for watering lawns. I wouldn't want to drink it without filtering and regular barrel cleanings. I think it's a great idea for lawns.
Gee it's funny how times change. When I was a lad every house had a rainwater tank and even today in the bush a tank is often the only drinking water available. I grew up drinking it and even now I have friends who exclusively drink rain water without any ill effects. It's amazing when an old tank is cleaned out to see the amount of sludge, dead critters etc that collect over the years. However I wouldn't drink the water collected from a modern polluted city roof.
Rain Barrels are not for drinking. Consider the water "gray water" at best. Not only does it come down with whatever was in the air of your city, it comes off your roof. Imagine the dust, bird poop, squirrel "deposits", etc. much less the chemicals making up the shingles that the rain water flows over before collecting in the barrel.
Rain barrels are best used for watering small gardens. It is debatable whether the money saved from the collected water makes up for the cost of water from the tap.
If you live in areas where there is a shortage of water, like the majority of the Western US, rain barrels can allow enough extra "free" water to grow a small veggie garden.
In other parts of the US with lots of rain, a rain barrel can help keep storm water runoff from spilling into the storm sewers (with the pollution off the roof) into the watershed, whatever value you find in keeping your portion of chemicals out of the environment aquatic organisms live in.
Rainwater itself is very good for your plants. Much better than tap. I believe it is actually because it has nitrogen. You will notice you can use the hose to water your lawn, and just keep it going. As soon as it rains it takes off much more dramatically, basically overnight! In some populated areas rainwater has been found to contain radiation and other unconsumables because it is falling through and exposed to pollution. Where I live this is not a concern. I would drink rainwater if it were collected in a clean container and not run off from anything else. Imagine the contaminants and chemicals it could collect from your shingles! But my plants do love what I can save up after a rain shower. :)
I have been captureing rain water for years, as my mother did when I was young. I own 1 55-gal rain barrel with a screen at the top to filter and the sprout is at the bottom. It to me is green, saves money on the water bills inbetween rains.
I catch it any way I can, barrels can be expensive, I use plastic tubs, coolers, along the roofs edge there are no gutters on the home I rent but the deck has an overhang roof at the back door that I'm going to invest putting a gutter on an run it down to the ground for my garden.
Anyway you look at it captureing water is good for the eco system we're recycling.