You know you’re a little desperate for dry, warm weather when your flipflops are sinking into the soggy grass. But forward thinking has always been the key to innovation. That’s why it’s the right time to think about saving some of that rain for the days when your plants will need watering.
Last year at this time I finally made good on some prolonged procrastination about installing a rain barrel to capture the collected rain from my gutter now for watering later.
The concept is so simple, I can’t figure out why we don’t all have rain barrel collectors already as part of sustainable building design. What’s so mechanically advanced about interrupting the downspout with a large container? People do it all over the world, but here in Raincouver, recovering what falls from the sky for irrigating plants is a foreign concept for most urban dwellers.
The City of Vancouver offers a cash incentive of 50 per cent off the cost of the recycled plastic barrels, which has enticed more than 2,000 locals to get one for $75, but condo dwellers face roadblocks like applying for strata approval, and, often, finding a vehicle big enough to haul the half-barrel home from South Van.
Unless we all get a tax break or, more likely, a smaller bill for water useage (coming soon to a metre near you) most people won’t be bothered harvesting rain.
I would like to see the city demand all new housing developments include a rainwater collection/irrigation system for any outdoor area adjacent to all buildings — now. That little building-code update would ensure that all balconies are constructed to bear the weight of a full container, and that residents would simply be able to turn on the spigot at the base of the barrel. It’s cheaper than feeding piping from the inside out, and it might also lead to some more attractive barrel designs than the old forest-green plastic.
I vote for a condo/townhouse version that is little less conspicuous, something slim and rectangular that sits flush against a wall and can be disguised with a ledge on top for entertaining or holding plants, maybe even incorporating under-counter storage for the hose or watering can.
In the meantime, another option for collecting rainwater is a more traditional oak wine barrel collector for $150, available at Home Depot. It’s more expensive, but at least it can be delivered (for a cost).