Northeast Times

Collecting rain water can be a barrel of fun

A rain bar­rel painted by artist and former Abing­ton EAC mem­ber Iris Innes. It is on dis­play in the Abing­ton Town­ship build­ing lobby.

Start­Frag­ment

Had a peek at your wa­ter bill lately?

Every glass of wa­ter, every toi­let flush, every car wash or pave­ment hose-down adds to your tap tab.

There is, of course, free wa­ter. It falls from the sky, doesn’t it? And there’s a non-profit agency that will help you col­lect it.

Stephanie Cly­mer, who works for the Tookany/Ta­cony-Frank­ford Wa­ter­shed Part­ner­ship, was at a re­cent Frank­ford Civic As­so­ci­ation ses­sion to talk up pro­grams that will help res­id­ents save some dol­lars.

The En­ergy Co­ordin­at­ing Agency is giv­ing away rain bar­rels, which col­lect wa­ter from res­id­en­tial down­spouts, she said. There are nu­mer­ous uses for what you col­lect, in­clud­ing wa­ter­ing lawns and plants, and wash­ing down pave­ments or patio fur­niture.

Sub­tract those uses from your wa­ter bill and you see a good im­pact on your fin­ances. There’s an­oth­er kind of green be­ne­fit, too, Cly­mer said.

“By stor­ing rain­wa­ter, there is a de­creased im­pact of storm­wa­ter run­off on loc­al streams,” she said. “This helps pro­tect the en­vir­on­ment and min­im­izes sew­er backups.”

The bar­rels, like the rain it­self, are free. Any­one who is in­ter­ested can sign up by vis­it­ing the Web site:  ht­tp://www.phil­ly­wa­ter­sheds.org/rain-bar­rel-no­ti­fic­a­tion-list or by con­tact­ing the wa­ter­shed group at 215-844-8100.

The wa­ter­shed group also is help­ing res­id­ents get “down­spout plant­ers.”

“A down­spout plant­er is a dec­or­at­ive garden plant­er filled with gravel, soil and ve­get­a­tion that uses rain­fall from the roof as ir­rig­a­tion,” Cly­mer said. Each plant­er is con­nec­ted to a down­spout; it slows wa­ter as it enters the sew­ers.

The plant­ers are free and in­stalled for free. Low-in­come eli­gib­il­ity and oth­er guidelines ap­ply. The in­come of a single-per­son house­hold must be less than $45,000, and less than $74,500 for a six-per­son house­hold. To fill out an ap­plic­a­tion, con­tact Mike Verla with Re­build­ing To­geth­er Phil­adelphia at mike@re­build­ing­philly.org or 215-965-0777.

If you want to hear more about rain bar­rels and down­spout plant­ers, Ju­lie Slavet, the wa­ter­shed group’s ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, will speak at the North­east EPIC Stake­hold­ers ses­sion at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, in the second-floor con­fer­ence room of Aria Health’s Frank­ford cam­pus, 4900 Frank­ford Ave. ••

For more in­form­a­tion, vis­it ht­tp://ttfwa­ter­shed.org/about-us/staff/End­Frag­ment 

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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