Our local Tualatin Riverkeepers is a community-based organization that protects and restores the Tualatin River watershed. They constantly offer programs to educate the public on the importance of a clean watershed.   Recently they held a rain barrel workshop.

Rain barrel workshops are offered during the year to community members throughout the region. These workshops are meant to teach people about water conservation and how to collect rainwater to home gardens and plants.

In Vermont we had abundant water coming out of the ground. Our well produced gallons of water a minute and we never had to give a second thought about our water. Here in Oregon it is a different story. We rely on city water and pay for every drop that comes out of our faucet. We are learning ways to conserve water and having a rain barrel was on our list!

Why should we care about water conservation?

Everyone lives in a watershed. What we do impacts the health of our river and ground water storage systems. The Tualatin River and its tributaries are used for drinking water, irrigation, recreation and serve as critical habitat for fish and wildlife. Since we all use and depend on this water, we care about its quality.

Stormwater runoff, or excess water that flows over impervious surfaces into storm drains, is one of the leading causes of pollution in streams and lakes. Stormwater is not just standing water that comes from a major weather event, it is all the water that flows through our street drains.

When we lived in Vermont, very little rainwater became stormwater. Trees, plants and soil captured most of the rain. Water that soaks into the ground is cleaned and filtered by soil microbes and recharges streams, wetlands , and rivers, which is ideal.

In the very developed area we now live in streams and wetlands are impacted by infrastructure that changes runoff and groundwater adsorption patterns. Too much runoff can increase flooding, damage riverbanks and pollute waterways.

What can we do?

There are three things we can do to help.

Reduce pavement.

If we can remove impervious surface coverings at your home, a little goes a long way toward reducing stormwater and helping water conservation. In the Portland Metro area the average rainfall is high, one square foot of removed payment can prevent an average of 22 gallons of runoff per year! Good alternatives to impervious surfaces in landscaping are pavers made of porous material, mulch or gravel. For other ideas check out the website depave.org.

Rain Gardens

Plants improve water quality by filtering pollutants before runoff enters streams. Rain gardens help slow runoff and allow plants to clean water before it enters the watershed. Even plants in containers help reduce runoff!

Rain Barrels

Rain barrels are another suggestion. During the rain barrel workshop we learned about the importance of water conservation. We were given a rain barrel and told how to attach it to our gutters. The water we collect is not potable but can be used to water our landscape.

It’s amazing what you can learn during a morning workshop. I am really looking forward to doing our part to conserve water so that less water is going into stormwater.

7 comments on “The Rain Barrel Workshop

Nancy on October 16, 2019 4:54 pm

Nice, we’ve had them for years in high desert. Depave link not working…

Nancy Wolff on October 16, 2019 6:10 pm

Nancy, The depave links takes a while to load but it should be working, just checked it myself!

mireille on October 18, 2019 3:51 pm

Several of my neighbors have them! I like the idea of painting them!

Nancy Wolff on October 18, 2019 8:04 pm

It was suggested we paint them to reduce the amount of algae in the water!

Margy on October 22, 2019 8:59 pm

When I had a hillside potato patch I has two interconnected rain barrels to capture water from a tarp hung between four trees. I was usually able to get enough water to last me through early July. When I had to shut down my potato patch on shore, I advertised my rain barrels on our local Facebook shopping page and they went in minutes to a good new farming home. https://powellriverbooks.blogspot.com/2014/07/rain-barrel-water-collection-system.html – Margy

Nancy Wolff on October 22, 2019 9:25 pm

Rain was never an issue when we lived in Vermont, we had so much water coming out of the ground! Here on the wear coast it’s a different story! I love hearing about your water storage story!

Melissa on October 28, 2019 11:16 pm

I wish more areas held informative workshops like this one. We have two rain barrels here on our homestead.
And I never really thought about pavement being a contributor to storm runoff and flooding but it really makes sense.
Thanks for sharing this informative post on Farm Fresh Tuesdays Blog Hop!

Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead

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