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Lake County Stormwater Management Commission  

Rain Barrels and Cisterns



A rain barrel is a vessel used to capture and temporarily store rainwater for future use.  A rain barrel can be connected to a downspout from a roof; rain that is caught can later be used for watering the yard and garden. A traditional residential rain barrel consists of a barrel with a sealed, leaf/mosquito screen on the lid; a connection to a downspout; drain-hose or angled runoff pipe for overflows; and a spigot usually connected to a garden hose.  Often the barrel is raised on cement blocks or put on a gravel foundation.

Some communities in Lake County have ordinances in place that require residential downspouts to be connected to an underground pipe. Check with your community if you are not sure. For homeowners in those communities who would like to purchase a rain barrel yet be in compliance with the local downspout connection ordinance, downspout diverters are available on-line.

Benefits

  • Encourages water conservation.
  • Re-uses rain water saving water usage and money.
  • Reduces runoff.
  • Captures runoff before it has a chance to pick up pollutants that end up in nearby waterways.
  • Easy to install.

Cisterns

Cisterns are large rainwater storage tanks. They are made out of any impervious, water-retaining material and are only distinguishable from rain barrels because they are larger and have a different shape.  Located either above or below ground a cistern consists of a solid secure cover, a leaf/mosquito screen at the entrance, a coarse inlet filter with clean-out valve, overflow pipe, and a man hole, sump and drain to facilitate cleaning. 

The benefits of a cistern are exactly the same as those of rain barrels, just at a larger scale due to greater roof area and larger volume of rainwater stored.

References

“Pennsylvania Stormwater BMP Manual,” Tredyffrin Township, Chester County Pennsylvania. www.tredyffrin.org/

“Rain Barrels and Cisterns,” Urban Design Tools: Low Impact Development, www.lid-stormwater.net/raincist_specs.htm

Photo

Cistern at Ryerson Woods Welcome Center, Riverwoods, IL