Utah Rivers Council to offer rain barrels again | ParkRecord.com

Utah Rivers Council to offer rain barrels again

Program returns for a third year

The Utah Rivers Council is partnering with Summit County and Park City again this year to offer discounted barrels for harvesting rain water.

For the third year in a row, the Rivers Council will be distributing rain barrels to Summit County and Park City residents. More than 350 barrels have been sold so far in Summit County and Park City through the program, according to Nick Schou, conservation director with the Utah Rivers Council. More than 3,200 have been sold in seven municipalities.

"This means every time it rains enough to fill a 50-gallon barrel, the community saves 18,300 gallons of water," Schou said. "Since these rain barrels last for decades the long-term water conservation impact is remarkable."

Utah residents have the highest per-person municipal water usage in the country, Schou said, adding that about 75 percent of water usage occurs outside of the home, which is why Utah has such a high rate. He said rain water is also the "lowest hanging fruit to grab." Participants are instructed to place the barrels underneath the down spout of their roof gutter to catch the runoff.

Approximately 300, 50-gallon barrels are available for purchase by those living within the Park City limits and unincorporated Summit County. The barrels, which usually retail for $129, are available for $50, Schou said. Rain barrels are also available for residents living outside of the participating municipalities for $75.

The Summit County Council agreed to allocate $4,500 each to help subsidize the costs of the program. Park City is subsidizing the barrels for the first 200 Park City water customers – limit two per person, according to Jason Christensen, water resources manager.

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"Rain water harvesting helps you reduce water usage and most of our water usage is outside of the home," Schou said. "There is an added advantage in that using rain barrels helps improve water quality by helping reduce run-off pollution.

"The other side is the big picture here in Utah. The state is proposing some of the largest and most expensive new river diversions in North America and so this high water usage is being used to justify $6 billion in spending," he said.

Schou said Park City and Summit County are "great examples of municipalities that are trying to give residents the tools they need to conserve water rather than turning a blind eye." He said subsidizing the cost of the barrels encourages participation from a diverse pool of people.

"The participation is actually pretty diverse," Schou said. "It's really for everyone and what our research shows is that people who begin harvesting the rain become more connected to the system and pay more attention to their water usage. That is what we are trying to do."

Lisa Yoder, Summit County sustainability coordinator, said the county has always supported the program. Yoder said she has followed up with participants and "we know that people like to use them."

The barrels must be pre-ordered online at http://www.savesomethingutah.org and will be available for pickup on Saturday, Sept. 9, between 9 a.m. and noon at Treasure Mountain Middle School.

"We are happy to support it because it allows people to use water that is otherwise wasted," Yoder said. "This year, Utah Rivers Council will expand the program by running some education at a couple of these events to help people be more mindful of how they use water."

Park City and Summit County residents can pick up their rain barrels after they are ordered on Saturday, Sept. 9 between 9 a.m. and noon at Treasure Mountain Middle School, 2530 Kearns Blvd. For more information contact Nick Schou at 801-486-4776 or 801-599-9223.