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Nature's own beverage
Why to save your rainwater now


April 2016

Simply stated, saving rainwater saves money. Plus, for Milwaukee area homeowners, there are other important justifications in using nature’s own "beverage" for lawn and garden irrigation.

Landscape designer Remy Mesrobian and watershed and restoration ecologist Pete Hill, both of Marek Landscaping, lay out the facts:

» Unchlorinated water results in healthier plants and better growth.

» The process saves the energy that is required to treat and pump water.

» Saving rainwater reduces impact

to local streams by preventing rainwater from carrying pollutants to the storm sewer system.

» When done on a large scale, it reduces the occurrence of combined sewer overflows.

» Collecting rainwater makes you more aware of soil moisture and plant water needs.

Mesrobian and Hill indicate that the most common first step in saving rainwater is figuring out what size barrels to use. A homeowner should then look for an easily cleanable or replaceable filter system. For extra protection, a clear or white rainbarrel is best so that algae does not grow inside it, they say.

"Homeowners should also look for a good overflow hole that is at least 1.5 inches in diameter. This is important under heavy downpours, when most collection systems will fill up quickly," Hill says, adding that the overflow can be directed to an area of the yard away from the house.

Both men agree that having a way to disconnect flow in the winter is also important. "Some barrels have valves that can be turned off, or the system can be set to ‘winter mode’ from an attachment to the downspout," Mesrobian suggests.

Quality barrels and receptacles can be purchased through the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), which also has a list of vendors on its website ( Among these outlets are Outpost Natural Foods, Whole Foods, Reflo, Stein’s Garden and Home, Choice Landscaping and Garden Center, and the villages of Greendale and Bayside.

Milwaukeeans are eagerly embracing this concept of saving rainwater, with Mesrobian pointing out that MMSD has distributed or sold more than 21,000 barrels from 2004 to 2015.

"It’s not a challenge to get clients to consider saving rainwater once they understand how to use it and how it can benefit them and their local water bodies," he concludes. M


This story ran in the April 2016 issue of: