DPW announces discounted rain barrel program

An example of rain barrels as seen on the web site of Great American Rain Barrel Company.

WESTFIELD- The Department of Public Works (DPW) announced that it will be offering discounted rain barrels this year as part of a partnership with Great American Rain Barrel Co. (GARBC).

GARBC is a local food importing company that has been repurposing their shipping barrels to collect rain since 1988. The walls of their barrels are three sixteenths of an inch thick, made of polyethylene, and can last for years if they are stored properly during the winter according to the DPW.

“It is that time of year again to start thinking about water conservation and saving rain water” said Joe Kietner, Stormwater Coordinator for the DPW, “Rain fall is hard to gauge. Harvesting rain water with a rain barrel can mitigate the irregular patterns of rainfall.”

New England can receive about 17 inches of rain during the May through September growing season, according to a press release from the DPW. One tenth of an inch of rain on a 1,000 square foot roof can fill one of the 60-gallon GARBC barrels in 25 minutes, which would be equal to 170 barrels over a full season.

It was only recently that collecting rain water was a necessity for those in Massachusetts who needed it for outdoor use. In 2016, the state was in a drought that caused 168 municipalities, nearly half of the communities in the Commonwealth, to put restrictions on nonessential outdoor uses for tap-water, including Westfield. The City of Westfield remains on the list of communities in Massachusetts with a mandatory restriction of two days of non-essential outdoor tap-water use, as of September of 2018, according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Many of the cities and towns across the state that previously implemented water restrictions have since eased them back. Southwick, which in 2016 had a restriction of one day per week of outdoor water use, is now completely restriction free.

Rain water, however, has no limit on what can be used for non-essential outdoor tasks, making it valuable in times of drought.

Each barrel comes with a filter screen to keep mosquitoes out while allowing the rain inside. If one purchases several barrels, they can be linked together with a .75-inch garden hose piece, which is not included.

“It has a spigot so you can link it together, and parts to hook it up with your drain system,” said Kietner.

Each barrel costs $69 and must be ordered by April 23rd at midnight. A link to order the barrels online can be found on the City of Westfield website. The barrels can be picked up at the DPW building at 28 Sackett Street from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30th.

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