Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.
Recently, we’ve had several people ask us about rain barrels. They all want to know: “Where can I get a rain barrel for free? How can I make a rain barrel?” Quite often around this time of year, watershed organizations sponsor events with rain barrel giveaways or sales. After searching, we couldn’t find any resources for free rain barrels in the Bay watershed right now, but you may want to check with your local watershed group for more resources near where you live. It is possible that there are rain barrel giveaways going on that we don't know about! Rain barrel sales, however, are much easier to find. Ready-made rain barrels can be purchased from many different places. A few that are listed on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ website include:
There are plenty of other places to find rain barrels, including smaller, local companies, like Rain Barrels of Annapolis, for example. Search on the Internet or ask around to find out where you can get a rain barrel in your area. As an alternative to spending the money on a pre-made rain barrel, you can opt to build your own for a fairly low price. Maryland DNR estimates that it costs about $15 to build a rain barrel using the following materials:
Installing a rain barrel is great for the environment and the Bay because it diverts stormwater from storm drains, reducing polluted runoff from making its way into your local river and eventually the Bay. For more information about rain barrels and how to make them, visit: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/ed/rainbarrel.html Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week! You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram! Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events!
A new campaign is urging Anne Arundel County, Md., residents to find “beautiful solutions to water pollution” by installing rain gardens, rain barrels and other methods of absorbing polluted runoff before it makes its way into the Bay.
The RainScaping Campaign, which kicked off this Earth Day, is a social marketing effort supported by more than 30 organizations throughout Maryland. The purpose of the campaign is to help reduce the fastest-growing source of pollution to the Bay: the dirt, oil, fertilizers and pesticides that run off residents’ lawns, decks and driveways when it rains.
Hundreds of years ago, the Chesapeake watershed was covered by vast swaths of forests, which slowly absorbed and filtered rain water before returning it to groundwater and nearby streams. RainScaping methods attempt to replicate the natural flow of water in today’s environment, in which much of those forests have been converted to cities, towns and subdivisions that are dominated by paved, hardened surfaces.
“Though we’ve lost a big piece of the natural forest, there are ways we can replicate it” through RainScaping techniques, said Jeff Horan with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, one of the campaign partners.
The campaign is centered around a website that contains detailed information about RainScaping, including directions on how to build a rain garden, lists and photos of plants native to the Chesapeake region, and where to order a rain barrel. The website also asks visitors to take the “RainScaping Challenge” by registering their RainScaping projects.
The rain gardens, native plants and permeable pavers promoted by the RainScaping campaign are on display at the Chesapeake Ecology Center in Annapolis. The site boasts 24 native demonstration gardens that absorb and filter polluted runoff while providing a colorful garden setting on the banks of College Creek, a tributary of the Bay.
To learn how you can RainScape to “slow it down, spread it out and soak it in,” visit RainScaping.org.