Residential Rain Barrel Program

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MWRD Rain Barrel Program

The City of Evanston has partnered with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) to offer rain barrels. Interested Evanston resident may purchase rain barrels directly from the the MWRD, see below for a link to the order form. in 2015 and 2016 the City and MWRD offered free rain barrels but that program came to a closed on December 31, 2016.

Rain barrels are rainwater collection systems. They are 55-gallon drums installed outside of residences and connected to downspouts to collect storm water runoff from rooftops. Rainwater can be collected for lawn and garden watering during the hotter summer months, plant watering and car and window washing. Collecting rainwater and using it on your property decreases the amount of water that ends up in Evanston’s stormwater sewer system and the amount of water you have to purchase. Installing rain barrels can help reduced flooding while also saving you money on your water bill and conserving water.

These rain barrels come in four different colors to choose from: 

Grey Rain BarrelBlack Rain Barrel

Grey                                    Black

Terracotta Rain BarrelBlue Rain Barrel

Terracotta                         Blue

Rain Barrel Specs

  • 55-gallon rain barrel
  • Comes complete with all brass spigot, nuts, gasket with standard garden hose connection
  • Powder coated stainless steel screen
  • Child proof locking lid with screws
  • Two-sided connectable overflow hose with hose clip
  • Overflow connecting feature to the second barrel
  • Installation and maintenance instructions
  • Rain barrels carry a limited five-year warranty
  • Delivery to MWRD service area
  • Manufactured from recycled plastics
  • More details here Rain Barrel Specifications

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What’s So Great About Rain Barrels?

Rain Barrels:
• Decrease the amount of water that flows into the City’s waterways, which can decrease the risk of flooding during heavy rain events
• Collect and store rainwater that can then be used for watering lawns, gardens and plants (especially during the dry summer months)
• Reduce tap water usage by allowing residents to use reclaimed rainwater rather than using purified tap water
• Rain barrels come in four colors; choose the color that best suits your landscape

Who is Eligible for Free Rain Barrels?

Installation

In order to make your rain barrel functional and to ensure you are receiving all the wonderful benefits that rain barrels can offer, you need to ensure that it is installed properly. The MWRD will provide a rain barrel installation guide to all program participants. If you do not receive one with your delivery or misplace it, please follow the Rain Barrel Installation Guide below.  

Rain Barrel Installation Demonstration Video

Resources and Guides

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published research and useful guides for those who are interested in learning more:
Rain Barrels: Mid-Atlantic Region Green Landscaping

For those interested in other actions that can be taken to reduce stormwater runoff, conserve water and increase the health of the regions watersheds be sure to check The Friends of the Chicago River Think! Beyond the Banks program. The program provides information on Eco-Friendly Cleaning Recipes, Overflow Action Days and encourages community members to take the Overflow Pledge. Disconnecting your downspout and installing rain barrels are both recommended actions as a part of the Overflow Pledge and Overflow Action Days. For more information please visit: chicagoriver.org.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many rain barrels can I receive?
    • The free residential rain barrel program has come to a close but you may purchase as many rain barrels as you need.  Rain barrels can be purchased for $47 each from https://rainbarrel.ca/mwrd
  • How long until I receive my rain barrel?
    • Contact the MWRD to get an estimate on the delivery time for any rain barrels you have purchased. Their contact information can be found at the bottom of this page.
  • How do I install my rain barrel(s)?
  • What are the benefits of a rain barrel?
    • They decrease the amount of water that flows into the City’s waterways, which can decrease the risk of flooding during heavy rain events. They collect and store rainwater that can then be used for watering lawns, gardens and plants (especially during the dry summer months). They reduce tap water usage by allowing residents to use reclaimed rainwater rather than using purified tap water.
  • How do I prevent mosquitos from breeding in my rain barrel?
  • What do I do with my rain barrel(s) in the winter?
    • Before winter, it is important to winterize your rain barrels by draining them completely and opening the spigot so water does not accumulate and freeze. You can also store the empty drums upside down so they can drain and stay clean for the following season. If you let water get into your rain barrels during the winter, they may break or crack.
  • I need help installing my rain barrel(s). What do I do?
    • The City does not recommend any specific contractors to install rain barrels, but suggests that property owners contact a handyperson or plumber experienced with outdoor plumbing fixtures.
  • Can I paint/decorate/modify the rain barrels?
    • Yes, once you receive your rain barrels from the MWRD, they are yours and you may do with them as you like in regards to physically modifying them to best suit your needs. That being said, rain barrels must continue to be used for their intended function (connection to a building downspout to capture roof runoff).
  • I ordered too many rain barrels and cannot use them all. What do I do?
    • The MWRD will not take back rain barrels that have been delivered.
  • How do I know how many barrels I need?
    • First, identify the number of downspouts that are in positions in which you can also place a 55-gallon drum. This will tell you how many rain barrels you can install. Next, decide how much reclaimed water you think you will practically use on things like plant watering, washing, etc.  Another factor in deciding how many barrels you want to request is the proximity of your downspouts to the places where you plan to use the water. If you have gardens on two sides of your building and a driveway where you wash cars on a third, one rain barrel might not be close enough to all three locations, so installing multiple may make more sense.

  • How big are the rain barrels?
    • They are 55-gallon drums. Generally speaking, rainfall events that occur throughout one day will usually produce far more run off than one 55 gallon barrel can hold. 

Questions and Concerns:

Kumar Jensen at 847-448-8199 or sustainability@cityofevanston.org

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD)
The District will protect the health and safety of the public in its service area, protect the quality of the water supply source (Lake Michigan), improve the quality of water in watercourses in its service area, protect businesses and homes from flood damages, and manage water as a vital resource for its service area. The District’s service area is 883.5 square miles of Cook County, Illinois. The District is committed to achieving the highest standards of excellence in fulfilling its mission. For more information, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 312-751-6633 or public.affairs@mwrd.org.