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What is a Rain Barrel?
A rain barrel is a container used to catch water flowing off a roof before it drains to the sewers or ground. Rain barrels reduce the amount of storm water runoff from buildings and make it available for future use, such as watering plants or washing cars. Rainwater collected in rain barrels is not safe for human use, such as drinking or bathing.
How to Purchase
- The Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA) is offering rain barrels for Jersey City residents to purchase for only $25 a barrel, a significant discount from retail pricing. Residents must agree to make a good faith effort to keep the rain barrels for at least 3 years from the date of purchase and must agree not use collected water for potable use. It is the responsibility of the tenant to get the permission of the property owner to install a rain barrel. Residents agree to provide annual maintenance of the rain barrel and all components.
- Residents can pick up the rain barrels at the JCMUA located at 555 Route 440, Jersey City, NJ 07305 on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9 am to 2 pm. Please your completed application along with a check or money order for $25 made out to the JCMUA.
How to install
- Make sure the roof is clean and the gutter and/or downspout is clear of debris.
- Select a place for the rain barrel on level, solid ground that is free of any rocks, roots, or debris that may make the rain barrel unstable.
- Rain barrels must be installed with a spigot and hose, overflow tube (directs overflow away from foundation), vector control (mosquito-proof screen under the lid), and a lid to seal the tank. If a mosquito-proof screen is not included in the rain barrel kit, it is your responsibility to install a screen with a minimum 18 x 14 mesh.
- We recommend raising the barrel a few inches by placing it on top of flat landscape/paver-type stones or concrete blocks in order to make the water spigot more accessible.
- Position the rain barrel so that the overflow valve is facing away from your home’s foundation.
- Frequently check the rain barrel, hose, and connections for leaks and/or overflow to avoid damage to your foundation.
- Do not let water remain in the barrel for more than 5-7 days in order to prevent mosquito breeding. A fine mesh screen fitted to the lid of your rain barrel will prevent adult mosquitoes from entering the barrel and laying eggs, but reducing stagnant water will further decrease the chances of mosquito breeding.
- Algae may grow inside rain barrels if placed in direct sunlight. If algae is present, empty the barrel, wash it, and let it dry completely.
- Remove any debris that has accumulated on the lid of the barrel that might block the screen mesh.
- Disconnect and drain the rain barrel before winter arrives in order to to avoid freezing and cracking. When not in use, store upside down and with the lid open.
Restrictions on Rain Barrel Water Use
- Do not drink any water collected by a rain barrel. Water collected from rain barrels is not suitable for human or pet consumption as storm water from roofs contains contamination from leaves, bird droppings, dust, and other potentially toxic airborne material.
- Water collected in a rain barrel is not recommended for watering fruit or vegetable gardens.
- The water flow (and pressure) will be less than from your outdoor spigot, making sprinklers ineffective. Plan to use soaker hoses, handheld spray nozzles, and/or watering cans. Elevating your rain barrel on a sturdy platform will increase the flow.
- Some roof materials, such as old tar and gravel, old asbestos shingle, or treated cedar shakes, may cause rain barrel water to contain high levels of toxic contaminants. Please consult with a roofing specialist or material supplier to determine if water is safe to use.
- Always keep the lid fastened and the rain barrel covered. Even small amounts of water can present a drowning risk to children and pets.