Jul 21, 2015

MWRD Hosts Rain Barrel Workshop

Dozens of residents registered for free rain barrels at the event

MWRD rain barrel Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

With record-setting rainfall pummeling the Chicago area this June, many residents of the city’s West Side attended a workshop highlighting the use of rain barrels for a new program sponsored by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).

Neighbors gathered for the workshop at Amundsen Park to learn about installing rain barrels and how using them can lead to water conservation and flood prevention by reducing the amount of runoff into the local sewer systems.

MWRD Vice President Barbara McGowan coordinated the event along with 29th Ward Alderman Chris Taliaferro, allowing dozens of residents to register for free rain barrels.

"Despite the rain we have experienced in June, rain barrel owners still have an opportunity to salvage 55 gal of water every time it rains. This water can be used to irrigate gardens and help wash and clean tools, work boots and cars," McGowan said. "More importantly, rain barrels serve a larger purpose in reducing the water entering our sewer system and backing up into our homes and streets. One rain barrel might not end flooding, but if half the homes on our city blocks were equipped with rain barrels, we could make a significant dent in the amount of storm water flooding our communities. It's this type of green infrastructure we have to consider adding to our homes."

The newly formed partnership is a result of new rain barrel distribution program the MWRD established to coordinate with different city wards and suburbs. MWRD also works with campus-type facilities, such as churches, schools and community centers. The MWRD recently amended existing intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) with local municipalities and began signing new IGAs with other communities to help distribute the free rain barrels. In addition, the MWRD is forging memorandum of understanding agreements with non-government organizations.

The 55-gal barrels are designed to capture and reuse rain water that is bound for the sewer system. By disconnecting the downspouts that normally transfer roof runoff to the sewer system, the rain barrels can reduce basement backups and reduce the combined sewer overflow volume, overland flooding and infiltration and inflow.