Workshop gives away rain barrels with hopes of encourging use
As he waited in line for a hole to be cut in the top of his new rain barrel, De Soto resident Sam Tyler said he remembered with most people took advantage of the water that fell free from the sky.
“My grandparents had one,” he said. “They had a cistern, but they also had a rain barrel. My grandmother used it to wash her hair. It was supposed to be some kind of magic elixir to make hair shine.
“I’m going to use mine to water flowers. There is some magic to using rainwater on plants tap water doesn’t have.”
Tyler was one of 25 people who received a free 55-gallon plastic rain barrel at a workshop the Hillsdale Water Quality Project offered May 12 at the De Soto wastewater treatment plant.
Hillsdale Water Quality Project director Gale Salzman said Tyler’s grandmother might have been wrong about rainwater’s affect on hair, but she was right about one thing most have forgotten in the past 50 years — rainwater is too valuable a resource to be allowed to drain from rooftops to ditches or storm gutters.
One inch of rain on a single square foot of roof provides 0.6 of a gallon of water, Salzman said. The same 1-inch rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof would drain 600 gallons of water, she said.
Lori Murdock, De Soto, said those figures were impressive.
“The benefit is my water bill will be less,” she said. “I’d seen something on them, and I’d been wanting to get one. This was a great opportunity to get it. And the price was right.”
Jennie Fyock, an information specialist with the Hillsdale Water Quality Project, said Johnson County Stormwater Management provided 100 rain barrels to the organization for distribution at workshops, which is now limited to those living in Johnson County.
One of those at the class was Julie Ferreira, who attended the workshop to get a rain barrel for the Prairie Moon Waldrof School in Lawrence.
“I’m the gardener at the school,” she said. “It’s a pretty good way to conserve water.”
The rain barrels distributed at the workshop were first modified with the installation of a spigot near the bottom. As their new owners circled through the workshop’s assembly line, a hose barb was inserted into an overflow hole newly drilled near the top of the barrel’s side. The barb was then attached to a sump pump hose to drain away overflowing water.
Finally, a rainwater access hole was cut in the top of the barrel, large enough to hold a flowerpot. To keep mosquitoes from breeding in water in the barrel, the flowerpot was covered with wire screen secured with rubber from a bicycle tire tube.
The Hillsdale Water Quality Workshop plans two more rain barrel workshops. At this time, only one has been scheduled, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 27 at Edgerton City Hall. To make a reservation, call 913-829-9414 or visit hwqp.org.
In addition, the Leavenworth County and the Wyandotte County conservation districts will have a rain barrel workshop from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Wyandotte County Conservation District Office, 1200 N. 79th St., Kansas City, Kan. The workshop is limited to 20 participants and reservations can be made by calling 913-334-6329.
The Hillsdale Water Quality Workshop plans two more rain barrel workshops. At this time, the only one schedule will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. May 26 at Edgerton City Hall. To make a reservation, call (913) 829-9414 or visit hwqp.org.