Ever heard of rainwater harvesting? A well-known practice in coastal areas known for abundant rain, rainwater harvesting is also becoming popular amongst Calgary homeowners. Saving rain and snow run off can save you money, because you'll have stored up water for our dry and sunny summer weather. Rainwater collection is a great idea for those with large lawns or gardens, even in Calgary. Some people even manage to collect enough rainwater that they can divert it for household use, although this usage isn't currently approved in Alberta. Another benefit of this is that, theoretically, the more people collect rainwater for their own use, the lower the cost will be when they do use city water.
Environmentally, collecting rainwater is a great idea, especially in our flood-prone province. Collecting snow melt from your roof and rainwater helps to slow the accumulation of moisture on the ground, which is mostly paved nowadays. The impermeable nature of our streets and sidewalks means that water pools faster than it should. Collecting rainwater for gradual redistribution during dry periods helps to slow down this process. It also means that there is less water to pick up and distribute contaminants to bodies of water like the Bow and Elbow Rivers.
What are the rules and regulations? Residents in the province of Alberta are entitled to use rainwater for flushing toilets and irrigation. If your neighbourhood has bylaws for aesthetics and/or curb-appeal, there may be restrictions on where you place your rain barrels, so check with your HOA.
So, how does one get and install a rainwater collection barrel in Calgary? A quick Google search will turn up many different tutorials for tackling the project yourself. There are also plenty of places to buy tanks with spigots pre-installed, and they are available in multiple styles and sizes. One great place to buy a rain barrel is local non-profit Green Calgary. They hold a fundraiser every year at various locations around the city, selling rainwater barrels and composters at a reasonable price. Check them out to find out when and where they'll be plying their wares!
Krista Kehoe, Calgary real estate agent & REALTOR®