Columbia Using Rain Barrels to Promote Green Living

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COLUMBIA - As summer nears and temperatures rise, the City of Columbia wants to help it's residents live in a more environmentally friendly manner.

The Department of Public Works is running a program that sells rain barrels for a fraction of their original cost. Mike Heimos, Stormwater Educator for the City of Columbia, MO, said using rain barrels and rain water is better for your plants.

"Well using rain water is the best thing for your plants and your garden. If you think about it, that's what they crave. But rain water is natural for plants and it's a soft water, and it helps them grow and survive," said Heimos.

Heimos also pointed out there's also an environmental health benefit to the usage of rain barrels as well, since they help collect some of the rain that would normally run off into the city's storm drains.

"All those drains go to our local creeks and streams. Now using a system like this (rain barrels) is going to hold off some of that run-off," Heimos said.

Heimos made it clear that while the rain barrels don't make a tremendous difference, they do help make residents more aware of their effect on the environment. In order for rain barrels to make a bigger impact, he said, they would have to be built bigger in order to collect more rain water.

The barrels are easy to assemble, and can store up to 50 gallons of rain water for future usage. Columbia resident Michael Burden said he supports the program and feels it will help boost the ecological effect on the community.

"Having something that's easy to use, that works well and really is inexpensive, I think is great. You gotta make things easy. I mean, people are trying something new and are more likely to do it if it's easy and works well," Burden said.

Burden is also the director of the United4Health Community Garden, which uses three 200-gallon rain barrels to collect rain water that runs off a shed's roof, and is then ready for members of the community to use, either in the community garden or at their own homes.

This program is not limited to Columbia or Boone county residents; anyone who wants to buy a rain barrel is invited to do so. The rain barrels will be available through June 23rd, and then will be ready for pickup on June 28th from 12:30-4:30 at the Health Department. The barrels cost $62 apiece.