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Impacting Your Water Quality Home
Homeowner Storm Water Management
Rain Barrels
What is a Rain Barrel?

    Rain barrels collect and store rainwater from rooftops to be stored for a number of possible future uses, which is particularly useful if saved for the dry seasons. Stored rainwater is often used for watering landscapes and gardens, but can also be used around the house.

      If the rainwater is to be used for watering landscapes, the rainwater can help to improve the health of your gardens, lawns, and trees. Rain is naturally soft water and devoid of minerals, chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals, which plants respond to very well.

         

       Pros of Using Rain Barrels:

    • Rechares groundwater naturally
    • inexpensive
    • easy to build and install (as detailed in “How to Build and Install a Rain Barrel”)
    • reduce water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff
Rainwater From Your Roof

    Roofs represent an important percentage of the large impermeable areas covered by cities. Since the rainwater is typically collected from the roofs of houses, it picks up very little contamination when it falls and collects into the rain barrel. It is necessary, however, to clean the roof of debris and potential contamination to maximize purity. The material of your roof is also important in how much contamination the water will carry.

         

           Pollutant additions to roof runoff include:

    • organic matter
    • inert solids
    • fecal deposits from animals and birds
    • trace amounts of some metals
    • complex organic compounds.

           Other factors that have been shown to influence concentrations of heavy metals in roof runoff are:

    • preceding dry periods
    • surrounding environmental conditions such as proximity of strong sources like motorways or industrial areas.

      However, recent research into roof water quality have shown that exposure to UV, heat, and desiccation on the roof top destroy many bacteria, while wind removes some heavy metals accumulated from atmospheric fallout.

Dealing with “First Flush” Runoff
      The first flush of runoff water from the beginning of a storm has been  reported to contain a high proportion of the pollutant load. This is mainly due to the deposition and accumulation of pollutant material on the roof during dry periods – the longer the dry period, the greater the probability of a higher pollutant load in the first flush. However, it is pretty easy to install a device for diverting the first flush away from the collection system.
Rainwater in Your Garden 
       Trees and plants rely on fungus, bacteria, and nematodes to help them absorb the minerals and nutrients they need. Trees and plants depend on a fungal root system called mycorrhizae. Mycorrhizae attaches itself to tree and plant root hairs and extends the root hair system, which uses some of the plant’s energy, but provides the plant with minerals it can’t otherwise absorb. The mycorrhizae of one tree connects with mycorrhizae of other similar trees if they’re in healthy soil. Therefore, the type of water used in a garden will affect the health of this intricate community, and rainwater is the most natural kind.

     

 

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