by SHANNON BLANKINSHIP
If you are wondering what a rain barrel at your home or business has to do with the river, you are not alone. Capturing rainwater from your roof and gutters prevents it from flowing onto our roadways and streets which prevents pollution from reaching the St. Johns. Along its journey, rainwater picks up the chemicals on our roads and driveways, fertilizers and mulch from our lawns, and litter on our streets and parking lots and dumps them all into the river. Furthermore, rain barrels have the added bonus of watering your lawn without tapping the underground aquifer. Combined pollution prevention and groundwater savings make rain barrels a home run for the river.
You don’t have to be an avid gardener or even a homeowner to utilize a rain barrel. If you want to do your part and protect a nearby creek or stream, attach a hose to your rain barrel and use it for any outdoor purpose when needed. Most barrels range in size from 55 to 75 gallons. You can prevent rainwater from running off your property during a rain event, and choose when to release it later in a variety of ways. Rain barrels can be beautiful accents to your outdoor landscape, and many even serve multiple functions now. There are several types to choose from. Here is how to get started:
Make your own rain barrel
The barrels that Coca Cola uses to transport syrup are donated, for free, to several local companies and organizations that will teach you how to make them into functional rain barrels. For the cost of the spigots and a few other attachments, you can make your own rain barrel. Added bonus: the barrels come in solid white, a blank canvas for anyone to personalize their new yard instrument. Visit the Duval County Ag Extension office or Duval Container Company to get your hands on a low-cost barrel. (duval.ifas.ufl.edu/ ; www.duvalcontainer.com) St. Johns Riverkeeper has a great video with step-by-step instructions about how to make your own. www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/river-friendly/rain-barrel-project/
Purchase a rain barrel March 1st
On March 1st, St. Johns Riverkeeper is partnering with Riverside Avondale Preservation at the Cummer Museum’s annual Garden Month plant sale. Pre-purchase an Ivy 55-gallon rain barrel, made in the USA with locking lid, mosquito screen, overflow hose and a lot more. $70. www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/events/rain-barrels-for-the-river/
Purchase at your local garden store or online
Visit your local garden store and take your new barrel home today! Reflections of Nature in Fernandina Beach, Earth Works Garden Center on Beach Blvd, Philips Garden Store on St. Johns Ave, and Whole Foods all carry rain barrels in-store. For innovative rain capture systems and barrels, various websites have a lot of options. Visit www.hayneedle.com to find barrels masked as rocks or sculptures.
No matter where you purchase a rain barrel this season, rest assured you are helping prevent runoff and pollution from entering the St. Johns River, while also helping save our water supply. The river says Thank You!
On the River – February 2014
by SHANNON BLANKINSHIP