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Saving rain for a sunny day

Staff writers
April 20, 2012 — For centuries, farmers have used rain barrels to save water for drought periods, but with a growing global focus on conserving resources, rain barrels are growing in popularity in urban areas as well.

Rain barrels used to save water
Rain barrels used to save water

Between showering, washing dishes, doing laundry and flushing toilets, daily water consumption across Canada is extremely high.

"Canada is actually the second largest consumer of water in the world," says Cynthia Brown with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.

Officials say climate change could be a contributing factor to water resources across Canada and residents are encouraged to conserve as much as possible.

One way to do so is by using a rain barrel. It's a cost-effective way to harvest storm water for lawns and save treated water for human consumption.

"As homeowners and as residents we can help conserve water in our own backyard to help reduce the amount of usage."

Brown adds that installing a rain barrel can help save thousands of litres of water a year.

On Thursday, Centennial CVI High School in Guelph hosted a rain barrel event, which had students promoting water conservation.

"If we treat the environment well and find a way that's sustainable to live, then it's going to be easier to live in the future rather than not caring about the way we treat the environment," says Grade 9 student Shahrzad Gharabaghi.

The City of Toronto offers these tips for selecting and installing a rain barrel:

  • Choose a barrel that's big enough to hold most of the rain that runs off your roof, or buy a barrel for each downspout on your home.
  • Install the barrel on a sturdy, level surface such as a patio or a paving stone. The barrel can weigh up to 1,200 pounds when full.
  • If possible, elevate the barrel and let gravity draw water down through a hose.
  • Ensure your barrel is mosquito-proof. Most newer manufactured barrels are sealed so mosquitos cannot deposit larvae in them.
  • Make sure your barrel has a child-proof lid.
  • Clean your downspouts and eavestroughs regularly to prevent leaves and other debris from clogging the spouts and your barrel.
  • Drain the barrel before each storm to ensure maximum rain harvest.
  • Drain your barrel before the winter to prevent the water from freezing, which could crack open your barrel.
  • Never drink the water from your rain barrel.

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