With Texas’ seemingly endless drought, water is becoming one of the world’s most precious natural elements. Residents looking to help preserve the fleeting resources or even just get a break on their monthly bill have increasingly turned to the once-antiquated practice of rainwater harvesting; collecting and storing rainfall for future use. With the right equipment and a few basic instructions, any homeowner can easily build up stockpiles of water each time the skies open.
The Mansfield Parks & Recreation Department is combining forces with Mansfield Water Utilities this spring to help residents harness the power of rain. They will offer a class led by Water Utilities Irrigation Inspector Steve Olinski to construct rain barrels and learn all the important tips and trick to making them work for you.
Harvesting rainwater is fairly easy, water utilities expert say. Homes and businesses equipped with gutter systems need only connect the downspouts from the gutters into a rain barrel. The opening for the downspout should be screened to prevent large debris, but more importantly mosquitoes, from entering the rain barrel. Typically, a rain barrel is also equipped with some sort of spigot for connecting to a garden hose. Once harvested, rainwater can be used for irrigating lawns and landscapes, and other plants.
“Rain barrels benefit your garden because rain water is the best water for your garden,” said Stephanie Zavala, public education specialist for the Water Utilities Department. “There isn’t chlorine in rain water like in the treated water that comes from the faucet. Rain barrels also help reduce storm water runoff which helps to decrease the amount of pollutants that this run off will pick up off the ground on its way to the storm drain. These pollutants include pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers used on landscapes. Storm drains carry run off water straight to our local creeks, streams, and lakes without being treated. Rain barrels help reduce that flow while also saving that fresh rain water for your garden later.”
This water can also be used for the incredibly important function of watering around foundations, she added, which helps to decrease the chance the foundation will fail. While there is the initial cost of equipment, there will be long-term savings from using harvested water for irrigating lawns, landscapes and foundations.
The Rain Barrel workshop is offered at 3 p.m. Thursday, March 16, at Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park. Each registered participant will receive one, 55-gallon rain barrel to make and take home; all supplies will be provided. Each registered adult may bring up to 2 family members to the class to learn and help create the single barrel. Only one person per family needs to register. Class space is limited and will fill quickly.
For more information, course fees or registration instructions, check out the details on the city website calendar.