Barren County residents gathered at the Barren County Cooperative Extension office Tuesday morning to learn how to make rain barrels in order to gather roof runoff for landscape watering.
Dale Reynolds, Green and Tradewater River Basin coordinator for the Kentucky Division of Water, led the workshop for the second time at the Barren County extension. At the end of the workshop, participants went home with newly made rain barrels.
“It’s always good to work with people who are interested in doing something for the environment, something good,” Reynolds said.
Using rain barrels gives people a sense of accomplishment, Reynolds said, because they are conserving water and saving money at the same time. There is no reason to use city-treated water to water plants, so using rooftop runoff is good for the plants and good for one’s water bill. The more rain barrels a person uses, the more money they could save.
Twelve people from Barren County attended the workshop, making a total of nine rain barrels. Reynolds walked attendees step-by-step through the process of making their own rain barrel, and at the end of the lesson he helped each person or couple make a rain barrel to take home with them.
The rain barrels Reynolds made were 55-gallon drums, previously used as food storage containers. Reynolds warned that it is important for a person to ask what was previously stored in a container they want to use as a rain barrel, because anything toxic in the past will hurt the plants watered with the rain barrel water. Reynolds explained to the group that a rain barrel needs to be placed under a down spout, with the spout cut short just above the barrel. He then walked through the process of drilling openings for the water to enter and exit the barrel, and he showed the group how to make it mosquito-proof, since mosquitos will gravitate toward a rain barrel, especially during a drought.
Reynolds encouraged the use of rain barrels to water farmland, gardens or flower beds, but he said the water “doesn’t go real far and it’s slow,” so anyone who wants to set up a rain barrel needs to be aware of that. He does not encourage anyone to use the water for drinking.
Barren County residents Jim and Earline Robinson attended the workshop with Earline’s large flower bed in mind.
“I’ve just been wanting to have a rain barrel for the flowers and things,” Earline Robinson said.
The Reynolds said they grew up using rain barrels, but they have not been using one at their home. They thought the workshop was very useful, and even if they don’t save any money using the rain barrel they are looking forward to having a ready supply of water for the flower bed.
“I don’t know how much money we’ll save, but it’ll be convenient to have water out there,” Jim Robinson said.
Mike and Joan Hudspeth also attended the workshop because they thought having a rain barrel would be useful on their farm.
“It’s a good way to save some water,” Mike Hudspeth said.
Even though the Hudspeths’ garden is far from their house, the Hudspeths are going to set up their rain barrel with a hose that will make watering the garden much easier than it has been in the past. It will be the Hudspeths’ first experience with a rain barrel, and Mike Hudspeth said it will be good to no longer have to use pre-treated water on their plants.
“There’s no reason to use treated water if you can help it,” he said.
Kristin Goodin, the Barren County extension agent for horticulture, said the rain barrel workshop received a lot of compliments after the first time the extension office offered it last August, and so they decided to hold one again this summer and they are hoping to offer the workshop a third time in September or the fall. The workshop is $25 to cover the materials for the rain barrels, and participants are able to leave with a completed barrel.
For more information about the rain barrel workshops or other educational programs the extension service offers, call the Barren County Cooperative Extension Service at 651-3818.