Rain Barrel Pilot Program explores ways to conserve water

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rain barrel pilot programRain barrels will be available by application to the first 100 Long Beach residents at no charge to reduce stormwater runoff and to conserve water. The Rain Barrel Pilot Program is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability to encourage residents to rescue rainwater and thereby reduce usage of potable water within Long Beach.

At the March 2, 2010 meeting, the City Council approved a request brought forward by Councilwoman Schipske to establish a pilot rain barrel program to encourage the capture and re-use of rain water for watering of gardens and lawns.

Rain barrels can be a beneficial tool in creating a greener Long Beach. Not only is rainwater excellent for landscaping, it can reduce stormwater pollution. Capturing rain and reusing it where it falls, slows the spread of chemical-laden runoff that damages the ocean water close to shore and often results in warnings to stay clear of beaches after every rain.

“The Rain Barrel Pilot Program is an important component to accomplishing goals from the Sustainable City Action Plan,” said Sustainability Coordinator Larry Rich. “Reducing potable water by 20% by 2020 is a big goal and rain barrel installations help to conserve potable water and keeps rain from becoming stormwater, carrying pollution into our rivers and ocean.”

The Rain Barrel Pilot Program, which began on Monday, will make 100 55-gallon rain barrels available to Long Beach residents at no charge through an online application process.  Applications will be processed in a first-come, first-serve basis, while supplies last.

Rain Barrel applicants must be Long Beach residents, be the owner of the property, agree to allow the address of the property to be part of a public list of Rain Barrel Program participants, and agree to allow a photograph of the completed installation.  The applicant’s property would also need to have existing accessible rain gutters and downspouts, and have landscaping or a garden where the rain water would be used.

“The Rain Barrel Pilot Program is just one of many innovative strategies the City uses to mitigate stormwater runoff and demonstrate water conservation,” said City Manager Pat West.  “This Pilot Program raises awareness and builds a culture of rainwater reuse in Long Beach.”

The rain barrels are made from non-toxic, food-grade plastic and are reused containers that used to store pickles, olives and olive oil. The rain barrels are equipped with mesh netting to keep out debris and mosquitoes, a brass spigot to dispense water, and an overflow valve if the barrel becomes full.

The rain barrels will be connected to the downspouts, and homeowners will have the option to have their rain barrel installed by a trained rain barrel installation specialist of their choosing, or could opt to have their rain barrel installed by the City’s green job trainees and their supervisor.

According to a memo released last week, the City received quotes from local and regional rain barrel suppliers and the rain barrels were selected based on price, type and quality of food grade plastic, screening for vectors and delivery distance.

Long Beach is also exploring opportunities for rain barrel installations throughout city facilities. Currently, staff is working with the library and parks locations, as both types of sites are good candidates for rain barrel installations and are heavily visited public facilities that offer visibility and an educational opportunity for water conservation through the use of rain barrels.

Rain barrels are an important part of the Long Beach’s overall strategy to help the city meet the goals listed in the Sustainable City Action Plan, including ‘Reduce per capita use of potable water by 20% by 2020’ and ‘Facilitate the installation of rain catchment systems at 5 City facilities by 2012’.

Information on the Rain Barrel Pilot Program is at www.sustainablelb.com.

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