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Stemming the Flow of Stormwater Pollution

Polluted stormwater runoff is the major threat to Florida's river, lakes and estuaries. Find out how DEP is working with local governments to help clean up stormwater runoff.

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Learn about Florida-Friendly Landscaping Techniques

Fertilizers and pesticides used on residential and commercial landscapes are harming Florida's waterways. Find out how you can reduce your impact in your front and back yards.

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Rain Barrels for Watershed Protection

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Rain barrels are a great way to capture nature's bounty and keep stormwater runoff away from driveways and streets. The barrels can provide a good source for watering your plants and lawn. Collecting rainwater offers the opportunity to use "soft" water with no chlorine, calcuim carbonate, salts or other minerals that may be found in water that has filtered through the ground. And It's FREE. Lawn and garden water typically make up about 40 percent of your total water bill in dry spring and summer months. Remember that your rain barrel most likely will not be able to hold all the water draining from your roof, especially in a heavy downpour, so be sure to take into account the roof area draining to the rain barrel.

About one eighth of an inch of rain on 1,000 square feet of roof would fill a 60 gallon rain barrel; so, you would need 8 rain barrels to capture all the rain from a one inch downpour over a 1,000 square feet of roof. Rain barrels can be set up in tandem, but the plumbing between the rain barrels would have to be of a diameter large enough to accommodate most, if not all, of the rain coming through the down spout in a down pour.

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Some rain barrel systems can be equipped with diverters so the excess water can be sent to perforated hoses in beds or otherwise be channeled to locations for irrigation. It could also go to a dry pond/rain garden. There are many possibilities for you to explore.

For more information, download this great resource: Rain Barrels: A Homeowner's Guide (PDF).

Source: Think About Personal Pollution (TAPP), City of Tallahassee


Build Your Own Rain Barrel

Building your own rain barrel is simple and can be a fun family project. Follow these simple steps. Also, be sure to follow the video link below to learn how to build the rain barrel.

Step 1. Clean the barrel
Use food-quality containers, not ones that held harsh chemicals. Rinse the inside of the barrel with a mixture of 1/8 cup of bleach and 5 gallons of water to wash away food or juice remnants.

Step 2. Install a hose spigot
To install a 3/4" hose spigot, drill a 15/16" hole for the spigot threading just a few inches from the bottom of the barrel. This will provide a few inches of clearance for attaching a hose or filling a watering can and allow for debris to settle below the outlet to reduce clogging.

Step 3. Build a platform
Concrete cinder blocks provide a strong, stable and level platform for your rain barrel. If you use more than one layer of blocks, stack them in a crisscross pattern so they won't tip over.

Step 4. Connect downspout to barrel
Position the barrel at its set height and measure where you need to cut or disconnect your downspout. Often you can disassemble the downspout at the gutter by taking out screws or drilling out rivets. If you do have to cut it off, use a fine-toothed hacksaw blade or tin snips.

A flexible downspout extender makes an easy transition from the downspout to your barrel lid and eliminates the need for exact measurement because it bends and stretches to the length you need.

Step 5. Cut barrel opening
Place the downspout connection in the barrel. If your barrel comes with a lid, or if it has a sealed top, you will need to cut a hole in it.

Decide where to place the barrel — many people put them under a downspout for easy attachment. Also consider the distance to your plants, gardens and flowerbeds.

If you don't have gutters, put the barrel under a valley in the roof that sheds a lot of water. Be sure to put a screen over the open barrel to keep out debris, small animals and insects. This will take a lot longer to fill, but may be more practical for your location.

Source: Southwest Florida Water Management District

Additional Resources:

Build a Rain Barrel Video - SWFWMD

SWFWMD Rain Barrel Resource Info

TAPP Rain Barrel Resource Info

TAPP - How to Build a Rain Barrel


Download Homeowner's Guide to Rain Barrels

Homeowner's Guide to Rain Barrels - 2.9MB
Detailed information on the use of rain barrels - courtesy

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