August 3, 2008

Use Rain Barrels to Wash Cars and Keep Plants Green? Seminar Tells How

By Jennifer Gollan, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Aug. 3--DEERFIELD BEACH -- Armed with a 55-gallon drum, Julee Felinski intends to harness the power of Florida's heavy downpours.

"It seems like such a waste that all of our rain goes into the sewer," said Felinski, 55, a retired technical writer from Davie. "Now we are going to use nature when it's convenient for us."

Felinski was among 50 residents who on Saturday attended a seminar on how to install rain barrels to conserve water. Attendees learned how to recycle the water to nourish their gardens and wash their cars. About 15 people bought recycled rain barrels from Publix for about $35 each.

"We get more rain than just about every other state," said John Shave, a landscape consultant from Oakland Park who led Saturday's gathering, hosted by Deerfield Beach. "The Everglades is stretched to the limit, we have reached the limit of our development. This is a real solution for water conservation."

With Florida's massive swaths of concrete development diverting 85 percent of the state's rainwater to canals, sewers and the atmosphere, rain barrels offer an affordable way to recycle water and offer relief to the strained Biscayne Aquifer, South Florida's main water supply. Consider this, Shave said: A heavy rainstorm in South Florida pours about 700 gallons of water on each roof.

Some of that water can be directed into a downspout connected to a cistern. Homeowners can then hook up a hose to a small faucet at the foot of the drum to water plants and wash cars.

Shave said he hopes to hold more rain barrel seminars throughout the county in the coming months.

"If everybody used rain barrels and captured 50 gallons in them, we would save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water each year," said Doug Young, president of the Audubon Society.


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