Fresh water is something most of us take for granted. Just turn on the faucet and out comes fresh water.  Groundwater depletion is becoming a problem in many states – even Tennessee where groundwater is plentiful compared to other states.

Groundwater depletion is defined as “long-term water-level declines caused by sustained groundwater pumping,” according to USGS.

According to National Geographic, only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people. The overpumping of groundwater is causing water tables to fall in many nations including the United States.

…Save up to $43.80 every time it rains, depending on the size of your meter and water usage.

The Ogallala Aquifer, a major source of water for much of the mid-west including Memphis, TN, has been significantly depleted by an estimated equivalent to two-thirds of the water in Lake Erie.

Ogallala Aquifer changes in groundwater graph

The Ogallala Aquifer is a major source of water for much of the Mid-West and even waters Memphis, TN.

Fresh water is an important natural resource that we have an opportunity to conserve every time it falls from the sky.  A rain barrel is a simple way to begin conserving this precious resource.

Why Set-up a Rain Barrel?

Rain water can save you moneyRainwater collection is great way to save money on your water bills. By gathering water from the roof of your home or office building, you can water your garden/lawn, wash your car or just stock up for the zombie apocalypse.

According to the Cumberland River Compact, an organization dedicated to preserving the Cumberland Basin, a 1,000-sq-ft rooftop can yield over 600 gallons of water per 1 inch of rainfall. This means you could save up to $43.80 every time it rains, depending on the size of your meter and water usage.

Rain collections systems are also nothing new, though they went by another name.  Wikipedia notes that rain barrels or cisterns have been used for water conservation since the late fourth millennium BC.

How To Set-up a Rain Barrel

gutter to rain barrel on a house

Gathering grey water from your roof is straight forward.

Setting up a rain barrel is easier than you think. If you are handy-man-challenged, you can buy a premade rain barrel online and follow installation instructions that usually come with the barrel. There are even companies that will install the rain collection system for you. This is a more expensive option, but if you do not know your way around a saw, it may be the best for you.

Here are directions for how to build your own rain barrel, courtesy of the Cumberland River Compact:


    1. Saw opening in barrel.
    2. Drill opening for overflow valve (hose adapter).
    3. Twist in hose adapter, do it a few times – try to get it flush with barrel.
    4. Drill hole for spigot.
    5. Twist in spigot, do it a few times – try to get it flush with barrel.
    6. Seal with caulk.
    7. Cut a piece of mesh to cover opening on top.
    8. Attach mesh to top of barrel with old bicycle inner tube or bungee.

Rain Barrel Safety

According to, people should be aware of a few precautions when collecting and using rainwater:
Your rain barrel must be secured on a raised, level surface (like concrete blocks). A full 55 gallon rain barrel weighs over 400 Ibs., and tipping is a risk if it is unsecured or on uneven ground.
Divert your overflow to a safe discharge location away from your homes foundation.
The barrel must have a lid and a fine mesh screen covering any openings to prevent mosquitoes and debris from getting inside.
Do not use moss control or other chemicals on your roof that are not garden safe.
NEVER use water from the rain barrel for drinking, cooking or other potable uses.

A Great Place to Start

Investing in a rain barrel is a good way to start living more sustainably, or if you are a green pro, it can be a great addition to your other endeavors. Investing in a rain barrel is a simple way to save money. It also contributes to the sustainable replenishment of our aquifers. If you want to go green, start by getting a rain barrel.