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Rain barrels benefit city and gardeners alike

Sylvester and his rain barrel in south Everett last week

Sylvester Phillips stands next to the rain barrel at his south Everett home last week.

EVERETT — Sylvester Phillips tends to several types of fruit-bearing trees and flowers in his yard and has for several years. He has noticed that they seem to do better when watered with rainwater instead of treated water from the tap.
This was the main reason he sought to bring two rain barrels home from the Make a Rain Barrel event the city hosted on May 22.
“Not everybody gets into their plants like I do,” he said. “The color on the leaves and even in the flowers looks tremendously better when I give them rain water.”
The event was one example of Everett’s continuing efforts to get residents and businesses to use rain barrels.
Though gardeners like Phillips may have other motivations for collecting rainwater, rain barrels keep excess rainwater from running off into the city’s burdened sewer systems. The city says this is especially important in north Everett, where sewage and storm water run in the same system, causing sewage backups and overflows during heavy rain according to Marla Carter, the city public works department’s spokeswoman.
Water saved in barrels can then be used to water the landscaping in days following a rainstorm.
At the city’s Make a Rain Barrel event, residents could create a rain barrel from materials provided, including a spigot to easily dispense
water contained in the barrel.
The participants also were taught how to install a barrel to the downspout of their house, so the barrel could collect roof runoff.
The barrels are made of large blue plastic drums with a square hole in the top. Two mesh screens cover the hole to prevent mosquitoes and debris from entering the barrel.
The downspout from a resident’s roof rests against the screens. A spigot is installed on the front, so water can be easily dispensed.
“I was amazed at how easy it was,” Phillips said. “I probably could have done it myself and figured it out.”
Phillips, a carpenter, constructed a small pedestal for his new barrel in the back yard to sit on, so the spigot for dispensing the water is easy to reach. He plans on constructing a similar bench in the front yard soon.
“I’m very into convenience,” he said, adding that he got two barrels so that he would have easily accessible rainwater in both yards.
Using a rain barrel conserves treated drinking water that a household would normally use for landscaping, but the city says that financial saving is slight.
The larger benefit is keeping excess water from entering the sewer system.
The Make a Rain Barrel event last month was sold out. Another event is planned on Sept. 23 and it is filling up quickly, Carter said. To register, call 425-257-8992.
The city will also hold two Buy a Rain Barrel events this year, one on Thursday, July 19 and one on Oct. 18 at the public works building, 3200 Cedar St. Barrels available for purchase will be already assembled and cost $55.
Various local garden centers and hardware stores sell rain barrels, but often for more money than the ones the city sells.
These events come one month after the city worked with artists within the community to decorate 13 rain barrels to place outside local businesses, which the city sponsored in an effort to advertise rain barrel sales. 

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