Organization Aims to Reduce the Impact of Rainwater in New Orleans
by Lisa Stafford
If you’ve been wondering what the brightly colored objects are next to homes around the city, you likely found that they are rain barrels. But what you might not have realized is that they were provided by the Green Light New Orleans program, sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Foundation and Entergy.
Rain barrels are needed for several reasons. They capture water that would otherwise add to the load on the sewer system or contribute to potential flooding. Additionally, they provide precious water for your lawn and garden, and for cleaning around the outside of the home. But even though the barrels are recycled from food containers, the water is not safe for drinking or for watering edible plants.
Using the water from the rain barrels reduces the amount of tap water used, resulting in a lower water bill. The Green Light barrels are larger than some of the rain barrels that can be purchased at retail outlets, and Green Light installation is more convenient than using a kit.
On my property, one barrel provides water for a front flower bed, while the other provides water for a backyard garden. Since the barrels were installed several weeks ago they have provided all the water needed for watering plants in containers and in the ground, and even filling a fountain.
Installation and Maintenance
Rain barrels are prepared to collect water by cutting a hole in the gutter’s downspout and connecting the barrel. When completely full, a barrel can weigh up to four hundred pounds, so their placement should be carefully considered. The homeowner is responsible for patching the hole in the downspout, should you decide to move the barrel. Water should be discharged periodically to ensure that the water in the barrel is fresh.
While there is not enough water pressure to discharge water from a typical garden hose, a short hose can be attached to the barrel’s faucet to more easily discharge water into other containers. During freezing weather, the barrel should be drained and disconnected from the water source.
If strong winds are expected, the barrel should be filled completely so that the weight of the water will help anchor it in place. Alternatively, the barrel can be drained, disconnected and moved inside. If at any time you want to prevent the barrel from collecting water, the diverter can be turned upside down to prevent the barrel from collecting water.
Many more rain barrels are needed for the community to reap the full benefits of their use, so if you haven’t already ordered one (or two), please consider doing so. Your donation helps offset the cost of the program.
For more information on the Green Light New Orleans Rain Barrel program, visit www.greenlightneworleans.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.