Sustainable Solutions – Rain Barrels for Rain Gutters

September 22nd, 2011 by Cathy Rust Leave a reply »

A guest post today by Ainsley Muller from Dynamic Gutters Vancouver, focuses on the importance of not squandering Canada’s freshwater apparent abundance. While most of us Canadians think that we have an endless supply of water in this country — which is reinforced by weak water policies at all government levels — we don’t. Canadians use more fresh water per person than any other nation, other than the Americans.

The graphic below provides a sobering picture of what the future looks like as fresh water resources dwindle. Using potable (drinking) water for outdoor use such as watering lawns and washing cars not only wastes water contributes to increased energy consumption. How? Because the water treatment plants processes the water using huge amounts of electricity to do so. The more water treated, the more energy that’s consumed. So if we use less tap water we’re decreasing our energy use too. It’s a win-win situation.

Canada Is The World’s Second Most Prolific Wasters Of Water! Rain Gutters and Rain Barrels Can Help

The first thing that springs to mind when you tell someone you’re from Canada is; hockey, lumberjacks, snow, lakes, and apparently lots of water!”

We have a lot to be proud of in this country of ours, but there are also a few things we should be a little more concerned about. For example, the fact that Canada is the World’s second most prolific wasters of water is something I would expect to stir a fair bit of outcry from my neighbours, yet, nothing!

When I share this frightening statistic with my friends and colleagues, the usual response I get is: “Yes, but we have SO much water, and doesn’t it rain like 364 ½ days a year?” Now, I know what you’re thinking: “man, this guy has some ignorant friends and colleagues”, and while that may be only partially true, these are professional people who simply aren’t aware of the dire need and depleting resources of fresh water around the world.

Then you share a visual explanation of the problem from this great resource, and suddenly it hits home. Perhaps those conspiracy theories about the eventual invasion of Canada for its natural resources may not be that outrageous. I’m only partially kidding!

Where there is a problem, there is a solution! From where I’m standing at least, it seems the easiest way to cut down on water waste, is to cut down on the use of non-essential water usage. Specifically, what the Government of Canada calls: “outdoor use”, in other words watering your lawn, and washing your car.

But to convince people that their two most prized possessions; their homes, and their cars, should go wanting, is going to be a mammoth task. So, instead, let’s give them an alternative to the highly treated (read energy-sucking process) city water.

A simple rain barrel can accomplish so much, for so little. Most Canadian cities actually subsidize the cost of a rain barrel, and rain barrel installation. Rain barrels easily extend onto an existing rain gutter system, and store water during the prolific rainy season, for those sparse and dry summer days.

Rain barrels are essentially a rainwater harvesting system. A rainwater collection system that attaches to your existing rain gutters and feeds rain water to plastic water tanks. A simple filter near your rain gutters’ clean-out boxes can keep out those pesky mosquitos, and a basic ($10) water filter on the line can easily filter out anything that your roof can include in the water. These are great water saving tips.

Rain barrels are available in a number of sizes. There are a few important factors to consider before deciding on a rain barrel, for example:

  • How much rain do I expect to see in a season? Remember a ran barrel can only hold its maximum capacity and no more.
  • How often do I expect to have to draw water from my rain barrel? If you expect to water your lawn a wash your car often during the dry season, then this has an obvious effect on your rain barrels size.
  • How frequently does it rain? If you see periods of rain during summer, then you may be able to use a smaller rain barrel system.
  • What type of rain gutters are installed on your home? How easily can your rain gutters be tied into a rain barrel? Do you have a professional rain gutters installer that shares your passion for all things green?

Beyond the obvious economic benefits to Canada as a whole (something that cannot be ignored as we enter yet another recession), the long term satisfaction of knowing that you are doing right by your neighbor and earth is thanks enough, and after all, isn’t that what being Canadian is all about?

Dynamic Gutters Vancouver is a proud sponsor of the rain barrel program in the Greater Vancouver area.

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