Rain Barrels: It's On Like Donkey Kong!

An easy way to conserve water by the barrelful.

stormwater, green infrastructure


Brian Michener


Marguerite Anglin


Brittany Coyle

Imagine if Donkey Kong’s barrels were filled with water; he’d be as wasteful as we are! We turn on the tap, and it pours out. We flush a toilet, and it disappears. Water is so fundamental to our daily lives that we rarely think twice about where it comes from or goes. But while water is considered a “renewable resource,” it is not a limitless one. Increasing development is leaving many natural aquifers over-“mined” and causing storm sewer infrastructure to be greatly overstressed.

An easy way to reduce water consumption and waste is by using rain barrels—simple devices that capture rainfall and store it for later use. This water can be used to irrigate house plants and lawns, used to wash clothing, and purified for use as drinking water. Rain barrels are inexpensive to make, cheap to buy, require very little maintenance, and can provide an independent and reliable supply during regulated water restrictions. In addition, rainwater capture helps to reduce the load of peak stormwater runoff on municipal treatment plants.

WRT has successfully used rain barrels, rainwater planters, and other stormwater mitigation strategies at the Mary Taylor House, Germantown Academy, and in larger, more complicated applications at Paseo Verde.

Now that’s what we call a barrelful.