BlueBarrel in the News!

Rainwater Harvesting: it's catching on!

BlueBarrel was recently featured in this news segment! Bay Area residents, and indeed our customers all over the USA, are catching on to the benefits of rainwater harvesting in any climate.

Watch the short (3min) video below to learn more about rainwater harvesting from BlueBarrel's founder, Jesse Savou, as she demonstrates the many benefits of a BlueBarrel System™.

Bay Area residents use harvested rainwater amid dry spell

The Bay Area is experiencing a historic dry spell during what is typically the rainiest part of the year. More homeowners are turning to rainwater catchment systems to turn a few days of rainfall into a year-round safety net. KTVU's Emma Goss reports.

The Bay Area is experiencing a historic dry spell during what is typically the rainiest months of the year. More homeowners are turning to rainwater catchment systems to turn last December's rainfall into a year-round safety net.

In Santa Rosa, Jesse Savou owns and operates BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment Systems, one of the leading rainwater catchment system retailers nationwide. She started the business in 2012, and saw business double in 2020 and continue to steadily grow over the past year.

"It's been our busiest January," Savou said, noting that homeowners in the Bay Area as well as other regions of the country are adopting rain harvesting systems in their homes.

The Bay Area hasn't seen measurable rainfall since the first week of January. The brief but heavy December rains easily filled Savou's 20 rain barrels in her backyard.

"What people don't realize is, even a little bit of rain is going to fill a system," Savou said.

BlueBarrel systems connect to the downspouts of a home. Savou also connects some of her barrels directly to an irrigation system, and can fill up her watering can too. The water is safe to give to pets, garden with, or use to wash a car. The more water Savou uses this winter, the more capacity she will have to refill her system the next time it rains.

"Every single inch of rain that falls on a 1,000 square foot roof is going to give you over 600 gallons of high-quality rainwater, to put that in perspective that will fill 11 of these 55-gallon barrels."

"Every single inch of rain that falls on a 1,000 square foot roof is going to give you over 600 gallons of high-quality rainwater, to put that in perspective that will fill 11 of these 55-gallon barrels.

The Sonoma Ecology Center has created a garden park, demonstrating to the public how rainwater harvesting works.

Steven Lee, a senior scientist and research program manager at the Sonoma Ecology Center utilizes a 70,000 gallon rainwater catchment system to keep his five acre Glen Ellen farm hydrated during the dry months. Still, he's concerned about Sonoma's low water levels.

"In this year that we're in now, we are having a pretty bad year that came on top of a pretty bad year," Lee said, noting that the dry January and February has put Sonoma in "dire straights," though there's a chance to recover if rain comes later this spring or in the fall.

For much of the Bay Area, water levels are near levels they were last year, low enough to bring counties and water districts to enforce or recommend water restrictions.

In January, San Mateo County's Flows to Bay outreach program distributed dozens of discount rain barrels in San Carlos. San Mateo County offers a range of rain barrel rebates as high as $200 depending on the size of the system.

"Rather than having that water run down the drain and become a source of pollution where it can pick all kinds of contaminants and pollutants in the roadways and the storm drain infrastructure itself, you can make that water a resource rather than a waste and put it to good use at the same time." said Reid Bogert, the Senior Stormwater Program Specialist for San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention Program,

The cities of Santa Rosa and Santa Clara offer rain barrel rebates too. Savou recommends interested homeowners check with their city, county, and local water district to find out if rebates are offered, noting that harvesting rain water can help bring down water bills, too.

"It's really what nature intended for water," Savou said. "For it to be getting back into the ground, rather than it flowing away through all this pavement we've been putting all over the place."

man with rainbarrels
Jesse_madelocal_barrels

Ready to get started?

Beginners can get started with just a few barrels and add on gradually. You can surprise yourself with just how much water is available when prepared to collect it, even in drought years. You will get over 600 gallons of high-quality irrigation water with every single inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square-foot roof surface. It's easy to size and site your System, and our easy-to-follow instructions and videos make this a great project for DIY-ers looking to conserve water in the landscape. Plus, your plants will thank you!

Creative Foundations for BlueBarrel Systems

The BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™ is the result of many years of R&D. We tinkered until we got it just right, so there's no guesswork for our customers—just a system that works. Of course, as a customizable DIY kit, there is plenty of room for tailoring your BlueBarrel System to your space, and to your taste! We’ve shared plenty of creative customer customizations over the years. This article covers alternative foundations for BlueBarrel Systems submitted by our clever DIY customers all over the USA.

The Standard Foundation

Firstly, the standard BlueBarrel System foundation begins with a level gravel base. Each barrel is rests on 2 parallel cinderblocks; the under-plumbing sits in the gap between the two rows of cinderblock bases (see diagram below).

System sketch
man with rainbarrels
BlueBarrel customer Terry set up a standard foundation for his BlueBarrel System.

Creative Foundations for BlueBarrel Systems

Over time, some of our customers have come up with their own foundation adaptations, most often to elevate the system. The main reason for elevating a rain barrel is to increase head pressure for a gravity-fed drip irrigation system, another one of our specialties! If you want the base of your system above 24” (the height of 3 cinderblocks), a custom platform is your best option.

Raised Platforms

Please note a 55-gallon rain barrel weighs nearly 500 lbs. when full. While BlueBarrel loves sharing inspiration from our DIY customers, the custom foundations featured here are not our design. If you attempt a custom platform solution, make sure you build it to local specifications and standards, or work with a professional suited to the task! You may also want to consider how to strap rain barrels for safety.

Wood platform 1:

Thomas built individual wood frames for his purple-painted 3-barrel system in Connecticut. He began with a level gravel base. Next, he placed concrete footings to secure the platforms and keep the heavy barrels from sinking the platform legs into the gravel and earth beneath it. On top, he used BlueBarrel's standard cinder-block layout that allows for under-plumbing the barrels. And, Thomas chose a lovely purple paint color—for the barrels and cinderblocks—to coordinate with the home’s exterior. Nicely done!

barrels platform purple
purple barrels
Wood platform 2:

Steve used a similar approach—including a classy custom paint job!—for his 4-barrel system in Washington. He left out the cinder blocks, and instead drilled through the wooden base for the underplumbing. In this setup, the barrels are placed directly on the platform. Additionally, Steve stained the wood platform to match the storage shed the system is connected to (yes, even a small storage shed roof can fill a system—find out how much you can collect from your rooftop with our nifty rainwater calculator!)

***please note: it is necessary to use pressure treated wood to help prevent rot and moisture damage over time.

4 barrel platform green
Metal platform:

Laura raised her 2-barrel system up significantly by placing crafty wood-clad barrels on a metal platform, artfully maximizing Colorado's 2-barrel-per-household limit. And, yes, this is a BlueBarrel System: the barrels are hidden beneath wood strips, the underplumbing is painted black to match the frame, and the addition of a brass spigot completes the look. Read more about Laura's system, and other strategies for masking your BlueBarrel System here.

clad barrels platform

Custom Block Wall

Erica built a decorative block wall foundation for the 9-barrel system in her Florida garden. Instead of the standard two rows of evenly spaced cinderblocks, Erica constructed 2 parallel walls (about 18” in height) with room for the under-plumbing in the gap. She placed the barrels in groups of three, leaving space between each grouping to access the plumbing when needed.

block wall florida

More Customizations: Share Your Creations!

We love hearing from our customers and are delighted to see creative customizations for the Bluebarrel System™. Don't hesitate to share your own DIY ideas with the BlueBarrel community...please send photos and videos to info@BlueBarrelSystems.com.

Virtual Garden Tour: See a BlueBarrel System Demo

Join us on the Eco-Friendly (Virtual) Garden Tour:

Thinking of adding a BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™ to your landscape? Curious about the ins and outs of a harvesting rain on your property? This video—part of an eco-friendly virtual garden tour series—is a great opportunity to view a live demo of a BlueBarrel System. Jesse will show you around her home garden and explain the process (fairly simple) and benefits (many!) of rainwater harvesting.

Three separate rain barrel systems collect from the downspouts of the 1,350 square foot home in this residential neighborhood. These include: an interconnected 3-barrel system, 7-barrel system, and 8-barrel system. This amounts to a total of 18 barrels and 990 gallons of water storage tucked discreetly along the sides of the house. And with continual drawdown and recharge during the rainy season, the total water savings is substantial. Jesse estimates it is upwards of 3,000 gallons annually, especially when there are dry-stretches between rainstorms.

virtual garden tour: bluebarrel near house
vegatable garden

Ready to get started?

Beginners can get started with just a few barrels and add on gradually. You can surprise yourself with just how much water is available when prepared to collect it, even in drought years. You will get over 600 gallons of high-quality irrigation water with every single inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square-foot roof surface. It's easy to size and site your System, and our easy-to-follow instructions and videos make this a great project for DIY-ers looking to conserve water in the landscape. Plus, your plants will thank you!

Take the Full Virtual Garden Tour!

Many thanks to the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership for producing the 2021 Eco-Friendly Garden Tour with 14 high-quality virtual tour-stops! This tour features gardens in northern California, but many of the eco-friendly gardening techniques (ahem, rainwater harvesting!) are universal. Join us from wherever you are, at your convenience!

NEW! BlueBarrel now offers Gift Certificates!

Give the gift of BlueBarrel!

Perfect for the sustainability buff, green-thumb gardener or daring DIY-er in your life. With highly customizable product offerings, as the gifter you can take the guess-work out by giving a Gift Certificate, redeemable against any purchase in our online store.

Click here to see what our Gift Certificates look like. 

Customize a Gift Certificate:

A printable Gift Certificate will be emailed to you after receipt of payment.
  • Name of the person purchasing the Gift Certificate.
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This form will not charge you. After you submit, we will collect payment based on the preference you indicated. A team member will email you a printable Gift Certificate after payment is received. Gift Certificates are non-refundable once issued.