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Rainwater: A Plentiful and Reusable Resource!

There have been very few days this summer without a thunderstorm–as I write this, the wind is picking up and the clouds are rolling in, once again. According to recent weather data, Escambia County has received 46 inches of rain this year (16 inches just in July), which is over 70% of our annual average of 65 inches. In a state like Florida with freqent rainstorms, the Panhandle receives the most annual rainfall, while the national average is 30 inches.  Desert climates like those in Nevada and west Texas may get by on under 10 inches a year. In fact, because rainwater is so scarce in desert communities and island countries, many people collect rainwater for drinking (must be treated first) and irrigating.

This homeowner uses her rain barrel to water vegetable plants in containers. Photo courtesty of the Bliss family.

This homeowner uses her rain barrel to water vegetable plants in containers. Photo courtesty of the Bliss family.

One of the best ways to collect and reuse rainwater is to direct it from a roof into a rain barrel or cistern.  A rain barrel is typically made from a food-safe container with the capacity for holding approximately 60 gallons of water.  A cistern is a more highly engineered rainwater storage area with a much greater volume (thousands of gallons).  While rain barrels can be used for soaker hoses and filling watering cans for container plants, a cistern can be used to flush toilets or run washing machines and sprinkler systems.

This Saturday, Escambia County Extension hosts its second summer rain barrel workshop, to be held from 10 am to noon at 3740 Stefani Road in Cantonment.  We have only one set of supplies left ($42), but participants can still attend the workshop to learn how to build a barrel at no charge. Another workshop will be scheduled this fall for those interested in building their own.

For questions or to get on a mailing list for the next workshop, contact Carrie at ctsteven@ufl.edu or 850-475-5230.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/blog/2013/08/01/rainwater-a-plentiful-and-reusable-resource/