Conserving water

WARREN – Rain barrels not only enhance the overall quality and quantity of surface and groundwater sources, but it can also benefit those who use them, a conservation expert said.

A free presentation on rain barrels was held Wednesday at the Raymond John Wean Foundation Building, hosted by Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, and the Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District. More than 45 people attended.

Amy Reeher, watershed coordinator with TSWC, said rain barrels can be placed by the side of a home and connected to downspouts to handle stormwater runoff.

Stormwater creates a problem when runoff flows over land or other surfaces, such as streets, parking lots and rooftops, where it picks up debris, chemicals, such as motor oil or antifreeze, soil or other pollutants that negatively affect water quality, Reeher said.

”The runoff that isn’t absorbed into the ground moves from streets and roads into stormwater systems and into streams. Stormwater runoff is the largest contributor to nonpoint source pollution,” and soil sediment is the most common pollutant, she said.

Reeher said educating people on stormwater is important because everyone contributes to stormwater runoff and everyone benefits from a functioning stormwater system and healthy streams.

Rain barrels, or cistern, help capture, store and release water in a safer, cleaner manner, she said. Rain barrels provide clean water for outdoor uses, help conserve water, help decrease the chance or impact of a flood, can minimize the effects of drought and decrease water pollution contributions.

Rain barrels can be used for watering lawns, gardens, washing cars and windows, Reeher said.

In addition, rain barrels conserve the water that comes from the ground or land surface into a faucet, can help decrease electric bills, water bills and sewer bills. It also helps control mosquito populations.

”A barrel does all this and its free,” she said.

She said barrels should be checked regularly, should be emptied and stored during winter months, and have screens cleared of debris.

She said to install a rain barrel, find a downspout, elevate a barrel and connect it to a downspout.

Warren 4th Ward Councilman Greg Bartholomew, who was among those attending, won a rain barrel in a drawing. He said he has always been interested in ways to help the environment. He checked with Reeher for information on setting up the barrel before he easily rolled it out of the room to his nearby business.

Matt Martin, program director with TNP, said such programs have been offered to residents since December 2010.

”We are always looking to provide ways to offer resources and education to the public as a way to both improve their homes and neighborhoods,” Martin said.