Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rain barrels make a comeback

Springfield, Massachusetts is blessed with some of the purest and best-tasting water in the country, thanks to the state's largest uncontrolled river, the West Branch Westfield. This river fills the 1,135 acre Cobble Mountain Reservoir in Russell and Blandford; the reservoir then goes on to provide 37 million gallons of water a day to Springfield, Agawam, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow and Ludlow.

Rich in lakes and rivers, no place in New England is more than 400 miles from the ocean, With water so ubiquitous, New Englanders rarely give much thought to its availability..Yet the region experienced a moderately severe drought in 2002 and has had periods of abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions every year since then. Last August was the second driest in 122 years, according to Drought Monitor.

One old water conservation idea that seems to be becoming new again is the rain barrel. The Mass. Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with SkyJuice New England to provide rain barrels to Massachusetts and Maine communities through its Sustainability Grants. Western Mass, Agawam, Easthampton, Greenfield and Lee all applied for and received discount vouchers. Agawam is on its third year of the program, with the goal of reducing per-capita usage from 80 gallons to 65 gallons by 2017. Last year the barrels filled six times in six months.

Kathy Pederson at the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission
says Springfield didn't apply for the program last year, but it is under consideration along with other water conservation measures for this year. She says one of the Commission members will be assigned to oversee conservation measures for Springfield within six months. Not only does this program help conserve water, it can save money for residents during our fiscal crunch.

What can you do with rain barrel water? Water your garden, wash your car, give your dog a bath.
If the rain barrel fully returns, maybe the next generation of children will relearn:

O little playmate
come out and play with me,
and bring your follies three,
climb up my apple tree.
Slide down my rain barrel,
slide down my cellar door,
and we'll be jolly friends
for ever more.

O little playmate,
I cannot play with you,
My dolly has the flu,
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo.
Don't have no rain barrel,
Don't have no cellar door,
But we'll be jolly friends,
Forever more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rain barrels not only conserve water, but they prevent stormwater run-off from overloading the sewage system. When sewage systems are overloaded, raw sewage spills into the water system.