Rain Barrels Aren’t Just For Gardens Anymore
When we think of rain barrels, we usually think of them as insurance against drought for our gardens and lawns. Fortunately, Haywood County has had a very mild winter so far with more rain than snow. However, the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council currently lists Haywood County as abnormally dry. In that respect, rain barrels are still a great idea for homeowners and gardeners making plans for spring plantings. They are also easy to install and maintain, and can reduce monthly water bills.
Rain barrels are also one of the most common and easily implemented best-management practices for controlling stormwater. Since sediment carried into our streams and rivers is the #1 source of pollution in Haywood County, it is worth taking a look at rain barrels from another angle. Even in wooded rural areas, there are homes and other buildings with rooftops with average-sized rooftops of 1,000 square feet. When it rains just one-quarter inch, about 150 gallons of stormwater will wash off every rooftop. Multiply those rooftops by thousands in towns like Waynesville and Canton and it can add up to tens of thousands of gallons of stormwater in a single rainfall.
In a mountainous county like Haywood, those gallons of stormwater carry all sorts of pollution into our waterways, including sediment, farm and residential chemicals, pet waste, and litter. It costs millions of dollars to remove the dirt deposited into our streams and rivers, as is the case every time Lake Junaluska is dredged. When sediment is deposited into remote streams in which game fish like trout reside, it can have devastating results. The water temperature rises, oxygen levels drop, and eggs are buried by the sediment and do not mature. For a region that depends upon tourism in general and game fishing in particular, sediment flowing into our waterways can be a huge economic hit. And, as anyone who has seen a landslide in these mountains can attest, stormwater runoff can literally move mountainsides.
In view of what stormwater can do, it just makes good sense to install something as low-cost and practical as a rain barrel. They are easy to find and you can pay as much as $300 or as little as $80 for the ones offered by Haywood Waterways Association, Haywood County Cooperative Extension Service, and the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. So, when you take out that seed catalogue or hit the big box stores to gaze longingly at that hand tiller, consider purchasing a rain barrel as part of your preparation for this year’s growing season. It’s the best insurance you can buy against drought and a great way to protect and maintain the surface water quality in Haywood County. For more information about how to purchase a rain barrel through Haywood Waterways Association, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-476-4667 or 877-700-7373 (toll free).