It's a good way to get water for many purposes.
The Mahaska County Master Gardeners recently hosted a rain barrel workshop at the ISU Extension building, 212 N. I St.
Vera Argo led the workshop, which focused on how folks can make a rain barrel of their own. In this case, participants learned how to make one from a 55-gallon barrel.
The process of making a rain barrel begins with cutting the lid off of the large plastic barrel. Next, a few holes are drilled in certain spots on the barrel. Last, the hardware is installed.
At the recent workshop, participants had a chance to instal the hardware.
So, when can a rain barrel come in handy?
Argo explained that water they gather can be used for gardens or other landscaping endeavors.
It doesn't stop there.
“You could actually use it to wash you car,” said Argo. “You could probably even do laundry if you want to.”
Argo stressed that, while gathering rain water in a barrel is useful in many ways, it is not intended as a source of drinking water. She also noted that making a rain barrel is easy and that anyone can do it.
The 55-gallon barrels used at the recent workshop came from a water treatment plant, explained Argo. She said these barrels will work well, while something like a used oil drum would not be advisable.
Rain barrels can be done on a smaller scale than the 55-gallon level, said Argo.
“Actually, I've seen them made out of a 20- to 30-gallon trash can that has a lid that you can remove,” she said.
There are a few motivating factors for using a rain barrel. Argo said it can help save money and is a way to recycle resources.
Argo has two rain barrels of her own. She said she's been using them for about four years.
“It has saved quite a bit on my water bill — especially in the summer when it gets really hot,” she said, adding that she plans on putting in two more at home.
A second rain barrel workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 24 at the ISU Extension Building, 212 N. I St.
Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.