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Rain barrel program begins

By Paula Canning

Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY– The Department of Public Works has teamed up with The New England Rain Barrel Company to encourage residents to purchase rain barrels to help conserve water and protect the environment.

Jane Southworth of the Department of Public Works said that while the rain barrels help residents conserve water, they are also a “good old-fashioned solution” to reducing the amount of storm water run-off that collects in the ground and sewers, and pollutes the groundwater and rivers.

The rain barrels collect water from the roof when it rains and stores it for outdoor purposes, such as gardens, lawns or washing one’s car, she said.

According to Southworth, outdoor use accounts for roughly 40 percent of total water usage.

She said collecting the rain in barrels will come in handy during a drought when water ban restrictions are in place.

A one-inch rainfall on a 1,200 square foot roof will yield over 700 gallons of water, according to Southworth.

She added that a quarter inch run-off from an average roof will easily fill the barrel.

Putting the numbers in perspective, Southworth said that five storms a season will yield 275 gallons of free water.

The rain barrels are made from 55 gallon blue plastic recycled containers that have a six inch diameter inlet opening covered with a screened louver to keep insects and debris out.

The barrels have two brass spigots – one to allow for a hose connection for watering, and one for overflow.

The spigot also can serve as a connected for a hose in order to redirect water away from one’s home.

In addition, the rain barrel comes with a five foot hose with a shut-off valve.

The barrels, which are designed for use with home gutter systems, can be joined together to provide for additional capacity.

To ensure the safety children Southworth said that the top does not come off.

“The barrels are engineered to avoid these types of risks,” she said.

Many other surrounding communities are also encouraging residents to purchase rain barrels, as the push is part of a statewide effort by the Department of Environmental Protection, according to Southworth.

She added that the collected water should not be used for drinking.

Until April 15, the barrels can be purchased for $62 each, which is $23 off the regular retail price.

“We’re really hoping that people come out and buy these barrels,” she said. “It’s a really good way to save money and help conserve water at the same time.”

The company has scheduled a general delivery of the rain barrels on April 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South Hadley DPW, which is located at 10 Industrial Drive.

Anyone interested in ordering a rain barrel can call The New England Rain Barrel Company toll free at 877-977-3135 or order online at For more information, Jane Southworth at the DPW can be reached by calling (413) 539-5033.