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​Reuse runoff

A rain barrel collects rain water from your roof and holds it for use in your garden or lawn. Collection of the roof runoff reduces the amount of stormwater flowing on your property. Properly installed and maintained, a rain barrel is a great way to conserve water and maintain outdoor plants. It is important to ensure that a rain barrel does not overflow and damage your foundation.  

A 208 litre/55 gallon rain barrel will typically be filled when it rains half an inch. Note that you should never use collected rainwater for drinking or food preparation.

If you need more capacity, you can connect barrels together using the overflow tube, a short section of rubber tubing or a garden hose.​

Setting up your r​ain barrel

Rain barrels are typically made of recycled plastic. A rain barrel usually comes with a removable lid, brass tap, overflow tube and hose clamp. The lid should have a steel screen to keep debris out.

  1. Choose a location below a downspout approximately 2m away from the house foundation. If that's not possible, purchase an overflow device or downspout diverter from a hardware store.
  2. Place the barrel on a firm, level surface like plywood, cement block or compacted ground. To maximize barrel, raise to 350mm/ 12-16” in height.
  3. Secure and stabilize the b​​arrel to avoid tipping hazards; a full rain barrel is very heavy.
  4. Position the downspout to fit into the screen opening. Cut the downspout if needed.
  5. Install the brass tap into the hole near the bottom front of the rain barrel. Hand tighten.
  6. Install the overflow connection/hose into the hole near the top of the rain barrel. There are two spouts blocked by a plastic disc. Choose the best side for the overflow hose and remove one disc by inserting a screwdriver or chisel from the outside and gently tapping with a hammer around the edges of the disc until it pops out.
  7. Attach the lid to the barrel using the four screws provided.​

A downspout with a diverter is recommended when your downspout connects directly to the stormwater system.​​ The overflow hose can direct back into your storm service connection.​

An elbow diverts rainwater into your rain barrel. The overflow hose then directs from the rain barrel to th​e street.​

Connecting downspouts and overflow hoses to your rain barrel

Depending on your on property’s drainage system you will have either a eavestrough downspout that leads to a splashpad/your lawn, or a downspout which connects directly to the stormwater sewer system. 

For a downspout connected to the stormwater sewer system:

  • We recommend the installation of a diverter which allows rainwater to go directly into the rain barrel, but also allows the flow of water to be switched to go into the stormwater sewer system.
  • We recommend the overflow hose go directly from your rain barrel into the rainwater leader (your stormwater sewer connection).

For a downspout that leads to your lawn or splash pad:

  • ​Use an elbow which allows for a bend in the downspout to let rainwater flow right into a rain barrel.
  • We recommend that you have the overflow hose from your rain barrel directed towards the street.

​Maintaining your barrel

  • Clean the screen monthly to remove debris and leaves.
  • Add a small amount of olive oil or dish soap to the water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your barrel.
  • Keep the lid on your barrel at all times to keep children and wildlife out.

Can I connect multiple barrels together for more capacity?

If you need more capacity, you can connect barrels together using the overflow tube, a short section of rubber tubing or a garden hose.

Storing your rain barrel

In preparation for winter, drain your barrel and store it upside down in a shed or garage. If the barrel is left outside during the winter and exposed to the elements, the plastic may crack.​​​


Collected rain water is not potable water. Never drink or ingest standing water that has been collected in a rain barrel. This water may become stagnant or contaminated, and is not fit for human or animal consumption.​​​​​​

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