Archive for February, 2020

Melrose – Continue to help our Environment

Rain Barrels: The More You Know

Rain barrels are a wonderful way to show that you care about the environmental health of our Earth as well as our city. Not only do they allow us to store water for use in our gardens, they are also essential when it comes to the cleanliness of stormwater systems in the city.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a system that is used to collect rain water from the roof of a home or building via a gutter and downspout. The downspout is typically cut for rainwater to flow into the barrel that is placed beneath it. The barrels are often made from 55-gallon plastic barrels. The rain that is collected is most commonly used to water gardens or lawns, wash cars, fill small swimming pools or do other household chores.

Why invest in a rain barrel?

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) states four main reasons why rain barrels are a wonderful system for residential homes.

  1. Conserving water : When then summer months come along, the typical outdoor tasks like watering the lawn or garden make up 40% of a households water use. Sometimes seasonal droughts lead to the restriction of water use. Droughts, in addition to increasing water costs, mean that using rain water is more environmentally conscious and cost effective.
  2. Reducing stormwater runoff: If rainwater is not collected, it simply runs off all solid surfaces, like a roof or road pavement, where is will gather pollutants. These pollutants will then end up in local streams, rivers, ponds, lakes or marine waters. If rain water is collected on private properties is does help to reduce the amount of pollution that is picked up during rain storms and is essential to watershed health. Rain water collection also helps to limit the dangers and destruction or erosion.
  3. Water quantity: As little as ¼ an inch of rainfall on a roof will fill and entire rain barrel. A decent rainfall will supply most, if not all, of a private properties rainwater needs. If a rain barrel gets full it can water up to 200 square feet of garden space. An interesting fact about this is that about 1 inch of rain on a 1000 square foot roof will yield 623 gallons of water. If you multiply the square footage of your roof by 623 and divide it by 1000 you can determine the water quantity yield at your home.
  4. Water quality: Because rain water is considered to be a soft water it means that it is better for watering plants as well as washing cars and windows. A soft water is water that is free of chemicals like chlorine, fluoride and calcium. These chemicals can typically be found in municipal water sources to keep them clean.

How does it work?

The image below explains how a rain barrel is used.



Melrose DPW will start to sell rain barrels in February! More information about this will be available soon.

For more information or questions in the meantime please contact solid waste and recycling coordinator Sam Flanagan at 


Thank you for your support of this worthwhile program, it is greatly appreciated.