The other day I had a sweet person, employed by the City of Richardson, come out to give me a permit on my rain barrel. I know! I want to utilize one of our most precious resources and someone needs to o.k. that? What they need to put the stamp on, is that everything looks good in the neighborhood. Keep in mind here, that the city I live in, is one of the MOST tolerant in the area. Most of the cities surrounding us don’t allow chickens or even rabbits. I can’t imagine the fuss a rain barrel would cause!
So these are the rules in my city for collecting rain water: https://www.cor.net/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=1320
- It seems that you cannot have a rain barrel in the front yard at all, period. Backyard is no problem.
- You can have a rain barrel(as long as it is not the typical bright blue that recycled food storage containers come in) on the side of your house. However since I live on the corner all bets are off. I must not only paint my rain barrel a nice shade of green but plant a screen to hide it completely. As long as it is neatly tucked away from prying eyes, then I am good. In fact I can have up to six 55 gallon barrels as long as no one can see them. Wow that is a lot of shrubbery. It would probably take up all the water, that I managed to collected, to hide my rain barrels! Boy, seemingly simple things can get complicated really fast when government steps in.
Being the astute city employee that she was, she noticed the absence of gutters against my roof. She then inquired politely; “How are you going to get the water to the rain barrel without gutters?” To which I politely answered; “That is just the thing! If I could afford rain gutters, I would be able to afford food, which I cannot, therefore I am trying to grow it in my front yard. In which case I am going to need water, which also costs money, to water my veggies with. Here, right here, in this V in the roof is where a torrent of water comes down, which I would like to collect and put to good use, to grow food!” This is where I started to get a tad intense and she started backing up. She left me with a flyer explaining the “rain barrel rules” This is where I really could have used my daughter’s calming presence to lay her hand on my arm and say, “Mom, calm down, you are scaring the nice lady.”
She fled the scene before I could question her about the increase in the price of water in our city. My neighbors across the street noticed the increase and after questioning the city ,had a plumber out to check for a leak. No leak, just;surprise! A large hike in water prices. I get that zebra mussels in Lake Texoma has been a game changer for many cities in the area. That is not their fault. However it is all the more reason why they should allow us to collect rain water without so many hoops to jump through.
If you want to start a rain barrel collection system see step by step instructions http://bloomwhereyourplanted.com/rain-rain-come-again-rain-barrel-is-ready-and-waiting/
Contrary to what you might have heard you don’t need gutters to collect this valuable resource. However it helps, a lot! If you are blessed with gutters you can put your rain barrel in a discrete location by just buying an extension, attaching it to your existing gutters and cutting a square to insert the end into the top of the rain barrel. Put a screen on the end, hook a hose to the faucet and you are good to go.
For those of you that don’t have gutters don’t despair. Pick the location that the water comes down the most. You know where that is. Drill quarter size holes in the top of your barrel, add a screen to keep out mosquitoes, an over flow tube to keep the water level below the screen and there you have it. I will
leave it to you to contact your city and see what laborious rules apply to your situation. I will certainly show you the final outcome when I get finished painting/decorating mine. I would love suggestions. How should I make my barrel blend in? Or here is a thought; I do have a complaint driven system in my city. Should I make it bold and creative and see if anyone complains? I am thinking red here. I do happen to have a pretty shade of left over red paint in my possession. I could say, “This isn’t a rain barrel, this is art!” Oh this is so tempting. This is when I take a life line and call a good friend to talk me down. We all have them; the voice of reason in our lives. I, in fact, have one living under my own roof. What would I do with out him? Things might go pell mell and helter scelter! Including the instillation of a red rain barrel!
Thinking of the voice of reason leads me to another point. Water storage for emergencies. It would REALLY be a shame to have all of this water stored and then not be able to drink it in an emergency. Face it, I have a small house, full of love, and noise, and chaos(just the way I like it) All that chaos doesn’t leave much room for water storage. Me and my hubby have talked it over; I told him, “If something happens, I mean something unimaginable, chances are you will be at work. I want you to know,I will have the homestead ready, to stay here as long as we can, to wait for you to make it home.”
This means we will need water we can drink. This opens up a whole Pandora’s box of questions that is the makings of a whole different post, but we have had this conversation. Have you? Let us know in the comments if you have thought about/planned for an emergency. Having said this, I refuse to live in fear. So I keep my rain barrels to water my plants and feel just a bit more secure in the knowledge that I can look at pleading brown eyes and provide something to quench their thirst until my love makes it to us, if it comes to that.
I found a way that makes it possible for my family to have safe drinking water in an emergency at a very reasonable cost. If you know me at all you know I am a DIY kind of girl. Homespun Environmental water systems sells reasonably priced kits that you can set up as a regular daily water filter system.
At the same time you are ready to use that water in your rain barrel for emergencies. I don’t know about you, but I want something ready to go, preferably already in use, in an emergency.
Long ago when I was just starting out on a career, I thought I might want to be an EMT, first on the scene to save the day! Then as time went on, I couldn’t help but notice that I am HORRIBLE in an emergency situation! One day my sweet daredevil little boy wanted to try out a neighbor’s pool, despite the fact that it was still early Spring and quite cold out. After much pleading we(my neighbor and I) succumbed to the pressure. For the record he is quiet convincing and he was sure it was really hot out and time to swim! When he jumped in that water, I will never forget the look on his face. Wide eyed and surprised for sure! Despite having long ago learned to swim, it seems his little body went into some kind of shock and began to sink. Not me, but my sweet neighbor saved the day. She jumped in clothes and all while I stood there rooted to the spot, frozen. Not who you want by your side in an emergency. Not being hard on myself here. I have many other gifts. Counting my blessings here that my neighbor has the gift of save the sinking kid in the pool! Thank you, Sue! We have often said to each other, we could have sent the recording of his expression in to America’s Funniest Home Videos and won the day!
This little story displays why I want everything working smoothly BEFORE the emergency. This includes my water filtration system. Now that my kit has arrived I am going to set it up in my home to filter our daily drinking water. Order your DIY water filtration kit here. Before you can set up your water filter station you will need two 5 gallon buckets, preferably not the orange Home improvement kind, unless you like orange of course. I was kind of hoping for a subdued white. You wouldn’t imagine how hard it is to find two food grade 5 gallon buckets in this city! I asked at 5 different places so far. My teenagers were cringing as they hissed under their breath, “Mom, stop with the asking for buckets already. I will go buy you some orange buckets now if you will keep it down.” To which I asked sweetly; “Oh, is this making you uncomfortable?” With teens, always look for their weakness. Trust me when I say, they are looking for yours. When you find it, use it to your full advantage. It is amazing what your teen will do to avoid embarrassment! Even after I find the buckets I am looking for, I might keep asking. Just for the fun of it! I know, I know , after trying to birth this child for 10 hours it has come to this.
One of my kids is a July 5th baby, that means pushing all through the fire works until the celebration of independence had passed to the 5th day of July! I was just thankful I wasn’t stuck in Dallas, after firework traffic, having a baby. We happened to be with my brother and sister in law when my water broke, who’s presence was very calming, which was much needed, as I have already told you how I react to emergencies. My husband just gets funnier and funnier as the pressure mounts. I am certain that had I had a video camera on this night, something that came out of his mouth in this time of panic would have gone viral and we would have been rich. Those of you that are new moms are shaking your heads and saying, “It will never come to this.” Just wait and see. You too, will one day, be at a store with your teen asking for buckets, just for the fun of it and the scariest thing about this whole situation is, that he will be driving you there! Teaching your teen to drive is NOT for the faint of heart! Back to filtered rain water; when I finally score some buckets I will show step by step how I set up my water hole/filtering station destined for my dining room/kitchen area. I have already requested my son, who is good at building things, to make me something that looks nice, preferably out of free pallets.
Let this be the year that you add a rain barrel to your property. Have a filter on hand and you can be water wise while at the same time storing water for emergencies! Instead of running out, this water will replenish it’s self. Well, that is the idea. If it ever rains again in Dallas Texas? We are entering the hot dry time when we begin to forget what that wet stuff falling from the sky feels like.