Rain Barrel Stories


Many fellow neighbors recently participated in a rain barrel workshop in the Logan Square neighborhood put on by the Philadelphia Water Department.  At this workshop, PWD staff educated neighbors about the need for innovative stormwater management techniques, and how to use and install a rain barrel in our homes.  To anyone who has installed a rain barrel PLEASE REMEMBER TO DRAIN THE BARRELS AFTER RAIN EVENTS.  Rain barrels have mechanisms in place to reduce the likelihood of mosquitos and other bugs, but draining barrels is a crucial step as well.

At the session's end, each attendee was given free rain barrel to install at home.  We've asked those who've installed a rain barrel to describe why they felt the need to install one, where they did so, and how it's affected their stormwater situation and water bills.  They've also submitted pictures.

If you've recently gotten a rain barrel, or have taken other steps to help with stormwater at your house, please share with us by emailing your story, and picture if you have one, to AndrewD@southofsouth.org, with "Rain Barrel Story" as the subject heading. 

Kelly and Rob on the 2300 block of Madison Square:

Rain Barrel Kelly and Rob

"We decided to install our PWD Barrel on our alley where our gutters are exposed, and a lot of water pours out of two gutters into one small drain. It took about 30 minutes to get the barrel in position, including removing a few screws from the bottom length of gutter which happened to be the right length for the barrel to fit under (so I didn’t have to cut anything, but you could use a hacksaw if you needed to). I moved the existing diverter up, and then put the barrel on a block for easier access to the spigot. To finish up we installed a small stainless steel strap across the barrel to secure it to the wall. So far we have used the water for a variety of tasks like watering houseplants, rinsing our hands after working outside, and washing off our sidewalk- but also for more exciting uses like mixing mortar for brickwork. I dont know that it's affected our water bills, but it has helped in spreading the good word of stormwater management- curious neighbors and visitors have asked about our new barrel and once I explain what it is they think it’s so cool. The one thing I personally learned from the presentation is the extent of untreated sewage that goes into the rivers during rain storms. Rain barrels cant save the world but every little bit helps and I think it's so cool PWD is reaching out and providing us with free barrels!"

Rain Barrel AndrewAndrew on the 2000 block of Fitzwater:


"I have a deck at my third floor apartment, where I grow tomatoes, herbs and other plants.  But with no hose hook up available, I've laboriously had to repeatedly fill up my watering can under my bathtub faucet.  Under my deck, my landlords have dealt with leaking and flooding during rain events, as the deck was poorly constructed, and the storm pipe poorly designed.  I attended the rain barrel workshop on September 17th at the Boy Scouts Building and got a free rain barrel to help with both problems. 

Installation was easy - my landlord simply bought a small diverter at Lowe's and borrowed a hacksaw from his mother-in-law. In no time, the pipe was diverted to the screen on the top of the barrel, and the barrel's overflow tube fed back down the rest of the original pipe.  It hasn't rained since we've installed this, but I'll let everyone know how it works out and if I encounter any problems. 

Rain Barrel Chad and AbigailChad and Abigail on the 2000 block of Fitzwater:


"We've experienced extensive and frustrating flooding on the side of our home, caused by excessive runoff from the home adjacent to ours.  We picked up a rain barrel at the PWD workshop last week and installed it really easily over the weekend.  We intend to use the water the barrel collects to water our rear lawn and garden. 

There has been little to no rain to this point, but we'll report back as the rain barrel becomes part of our routine and let everyone know how functional it is."