City Cast

What’s the Deal with Rain Barrels?

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on June 29
What’s the deal with rain barrels? (Leon Harris / Getty Images)

What’s the deal with rain barrels? (Leon Harris / Getty Images)

This month has been Denver’s rainiest June in nearly 150 years, and judging by the current weather forecast, things aren’t drying out anytime soon. Curious about putting all this water to good use with a rain barrel? Here are a few things you should know:

☔ What is a rain barrel? Exactly what it sounds like: A barrel that you can attach to your gutter system to collect rainwater.

🚫 Rain barrels used to be illegal here, and still are in some places. In 2016, Colorado made it legal for any resident household to own up to two rain barrels that can collect up to 110 gallons of water per storm.

  • 🤔 Why was it illegal? That has to do with Old West water laws and senior water-rights holders. We’re also a headwater state (a LOT of important rivers and streams originate here), which is why we were one of the last states to legalize rain harvesting.

🪴 What can you use your rainwater collection for? Outdoor lawns, plants, or gardens. (Note that untreated rainwater is NOT safe to drink.)

🛢️ Your HOA cannot ban rain barrels! But it can impose “aesthetic requirements.” (Like how my trash can isn’t allowed to be visible from the street.)

💰 What are the benefits of rain collection? According to math done by 9News, if you fill your rain barrels 10-15 times in a typical rainy season (that’s about average), you can shave about $5-$10 off your monthly water bill. But more importantly, you’re contributing to our state’s desperate water conservation efforts!

🔎 Tell me more: CSU Extension is a wealth of knowledge on rain harvesting and the legalities surrounding it. The Colorado Division of Water Resources also has a helpful FAQ section.

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