It’s a rainy day here in Chicagoland, and from the looks of the radar map, much of the Midwest is suffering from the same wet, cold weather. But at least the precipitation is rain and not snow, and that can only mean one thing: Spring is finally on its way.
As we emerge from this long, cold winter, and get back to outdoor activities in our yards and gardens, we can put these spring rains to use. Rain barrels are a simple conservation method that can provide water for non-potable applications such as watering lawns and gardens and washing cars.
Rain barrels are no longer for just the most ardent environmentalists — according to an article last week in the Chicago Tribune, they are becoming more mainstream. Many Chicago suburbs have begun programs to encourage residents to install rain barrels. The main component of these programs is educating residents about conservation and the benefits of barrels, but some cities, like Geneva, located west of Chicago, try to add some fun as well. Each summer, Geneva holds a “rain barrels on parade” event — 25 painted barrels are placed throughout the downtown area, and are later auctioned off at a festival.
On a day like today, it may seem like the rain will never end, but the reality is that our water supplies are not endless. Collecting and reusing rainwater is just one way we can help stretch our water resources — and at a time when much of the country is facing drought, water conservation is more important then ever.