A Drop - or two in the Bucket: DC's Rain Barrel Rebate Program
"Abe", my rain barrel
OK, back to my gardening theme. DC Greenworks is a non profit organization that provides training, tools, and technologies that utilize, advance, and protect the environment. They provide several environmental services..and incentives for taking environmental measures such as purchasing and installing RAIN BARRELS, increasing the permeable area in your yard and providing green collar job training.
Their rain barrel program is great! There are several "approved" models that you can chose from. Once you purchase the barrel and install it (Aquabarrel delivered it to my house!), you can apply for a rebate. I live in a rowhouse, and my slightly sloping roof drains off the back of my house. All of this water did drain directly into a storm drain. Now, with my 80 gallon "Abe" (I bought one made out of recycled plastic), I'm harvesting most of that water to use in my garden. I was really surprised to just how much water comes off my relatively small roof. Once Abe is full, the barrel is designed so that any overflow goes into the storm drain like it used to do. In the winter, I'll need to empty the barrel and block off the flow of water into it (by turning a knob), so that the water doesn't freeze inside the barrel and damage it. Right now I've got my hose hooked up to it and I'm watering away! I could even wash my car with this. My dog is eyeing me as I write, hoping I don't get any bright ideas about making her a grey water mascot for those summer baths. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm!
DC Greenworks reimbursed me for 1/2 of the price of the rain barrel. I didn't want to wait for them to come by and install it (for a very reasonable $30), so I had some contractors do it. That wasn't a good idea. They'd never installed one before, and it took them a long time and cost me quite a bit of money. The barrels aren't that difficult to install, but it does take some noodling. Some local vendors like Aquabarrel also do installation, though I'm not sure how much they charge.
Working with the DC Greenworks folks was great, and I love the idea of saving money on my watering bill and reducing (a tiny bit) of that runoff into the Anacostia.