Rain barrels capture and store the rainwater running off your rooftop. The harvested rainwater can be stored for later use, or used immediately for watering lawns and landscaped areas, filling ponds or fountains, or washing cars. This stored water helps to save money and it really comes in handy during times of mandatory water restrictions.
Rain barrels require little maintenance and—with the rising price of municipal water—are a great way to save money and conserve water as a natural resource.
By collecting runoff from rooftops, rain barrels can also prevent stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is caused when heavy rains run directly into streets and storm sewers, carrying it (and the pollutants it collects) directly to the local waterways.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a rebate to help cover the purchase price of your rain barrel. In DC, see the RiverSmart Homes site; In Montgomery County, see Rainscapes Rewards; in Gaithersburg, Rainscapes Rewards; Rockville – Rainscapes Rewards.
Rain barrels are fun and easy to build and there are lots of rain barrel workshops in the area: Northern Virginia Rain Barrel Registration
You can build your own, without a workshop: Rain Barrel Assembly (pdf)
Or you can buy one, readymade: Local Rain Barrel Sources