The Jersey Shore Chapter has hosted several build-a-rain-barrel workshops, aka "barrels of fun" events. Enthusiastic community members turned out to build and take home their very own rain barrel and learn about what they can do to protect the water quality of our ocean and waterways. The Jersey Shore Chapter partnered with Rutgers University Cooperative to put on the workshops. Speakers presented on the water quality issues, and solutions such as water conservation, pollution source controls, planting rain gardens, and installing rain barrels. Then the fun began. Rutgers brought along with them twenty-five 55-gallon used olive barrels, which they lead the group in transforming into rain barrels. It’s a lot easier than you think.
All it took was drilling two holes one for the spigot and one for the overflow, a little bit of caulk, some screen to keep out the mosquitoes, and some elbow grease to screw on the top. Everyone went home a proud owner of a rain barrel with the knowledge of how to properly install and maintain it, and a little wiser about how they can limit the pollution coming off their own property and better protect the quality of our treasured coastal waters. Since the barrels can be easily painted, many participants had the aspirations to turn them into works of art to compliment their landscapes.
Each barrel is predicted to capture 1300 gallons of water each year that can be used for non-potable uses, including watering lawns or gardens, rinsing off sandy feet after the beach, or other uses like washing the dog. When all rain barrels are installed, the group will conserve 32,500 gallons of water per year, and thus divert that much from entering our storm drains and waterways. That’s a lot of water! The barrels also help to slow down rain-water and divert it into the landscape, where the soil can help cleanse it of pollutants. The water is stored like a sponge in the soil, where plants can tap into it during dry periods, and excess travels further downward into aquifers.
There are a couple of ways to go about hosting a rain barreling building workshop depending on the location of your chapter. One option is to partner with Rutgers University like the Jersey Shore Chapter has done previously. Alternatively, Rutgers has made it really easy to host a rain barrel-building workshop on your own by providing a PowerPoint, script and handouts to conduct a workshop.
If Rutgers University is not close by, other potential partners include local agencies, garden supply shops or nurseries. The Chapter and your partners will need to secure the recycled barrels and necessary equipment. For an online rain barrel locator click here. Next you will need to find an appropriate venue, set the date, and promote the event .
Important detail, the Jersey Shore Chapter pays Rutgers $500 for their time and expertise per workshop. Participants pay $45 to take the workshop and walk away with a rain barrel that they build themselves. However, Chapters can pull this off without partnering with Rutgers thanks to all of the resources Rutgers has created. The only thing that Rutgers asks in return is that you complete the evaluation materials after the workshop to help them track how many people are benefiting from their amazing resources!
Check out these resources, everything you need is right here:
Rutgers Cooperative Extension Rain Barrel Videos
Factsheets by Rutgers University: