Welcome back to our series on actions individuals can take to contribute to flood mitigation on a community level. This week we are looking at water storage using rain barrels. 

rain barrel

Photo: "rain barrel" by barbndc is licenced under CC BY 2.0.

Using a Rain Barrel

There are many different ways to mitigate large-scale flooding but the use of dams and reservoirs to store flood waters, particularly using the TransAlta reservoirs, has received a lot of attention[1]. While managing dams is a complex process, the principles around filling and spilling can be applied on a smaller scale. Operating a nano-sized reservoir is a great hands-on learning opportunity for kids at home (or curious adults).

During Rainy Seasons

Using a rain barrel during wet conditions prevents water from flowing into storm drains and instead diverts runoff into your personal reservoir - if you’ve made space for it. If you empty your rain barrel before a heavy rainfall you can store up to 200 litres (depending on the size of your barrel) preventing the water from entering the stormwater system.

During Dry Seasons

When conditions are dry, your lawn or garden may be watered with reserved water - similar to how water stored in reservoirs is released slowly over the course of a year so that farmers and irrigators may water crops. Bonus: this will also reduce your water bill because you will be reusing water instead of using potable water from the tap.

Buying a Rain Barrel

If you would like to purchase a rain barrel contact your municipality. Regulations and rules surrounding rain barrel use vary throughout the province and your local representatives will be able to give tell you if rain barrels are permitted in your community and if so, where to buy one.

Worried your rain barrel will be an unattractive addition to your yard? Your rain barrel doesn’t have to be boring or ugly. There are countless examples of painted rain barrels and there are numerous online tutorials that demonstrate how to beautify your barrel. We’ve got a pinterest page if you need painting inspiration or instructions.



[1] CBC News. June 17, 2014. "Little Cascade Dam made big difference in Canmore flooding" http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/little-cascade-dam-made-big-difference-in-canmore-flooding-1.2678678