Kate Murray recently announced a home based rain barrel initiative to encourage residents to be more environmentally conscious. The barrel is sold by the town for $45 and is used to collect water from your home's gutters. Before you order one, you should consider some water usage facts.
The first thing is, this product is only useful for about seven months of the year, April through October.
Second, it is not really useful for watering a the lawn, unless you are watering by hand, because there is not enough pressure to run a lawn sprinkler. Yes you can use an electric pump, but this uses more energy than using the water you receive from your local water district.
Third, according to the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)1 it takes about 24 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. The barrel the town is selling weighs about 15 pounds. This means it took about 360 gallons of water to produce the barrel.
Fourth, residents need to look at how much they could potentially save using the barrel. In Franklin Square, where I live, residents pay about .19 cents per gallon of water. If residents were able to collect and use an average of 50 gallons of water (one barrel) per week seven months of the year, they would save about $2.70 per year on their water bill. With the cost of the water barrel being $45, it will take almost 17 years to recoup your investment.
If Supervisor Murray really wants to conserve water, she should reduce Town mailings. It takes 2.6 gallons of water to manufacture one sheet of paper2. The Town of Hempstead sends out about 25 mailings per year or two per month. If Supervisor Murray eliminated just two mailings about 1.3 million gallons of water would be saved.
Supervisor Murray should also offer residents the option to receive town mailings by email.
For every resident that uses the email option, about 65 gallons of water and more than $4 in postage, would be saved each year.