Bay Ridge

DEP has gift for Brooklyn homeowners: rain barrels

Agency distributes rain barrels in water conservation push

April 14, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Sen. Marty Golden (right) and members of his staff helped DEP distribute hundreds of rain barrels. Photo courtesy of DEP
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Hundreds of homeowners all over Southwest Brooklyn got a gift from the city, thanks to the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which handed out free rain barrels as part of an ambitious water conservation effort.

DEP worked with state Sen. Marty Golden on a Rain Barrel Giveaway Program, distributing barrels to approximately 320 homeowners from Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach on April 9 and 10. 

The Rain Barrel Giveaway Program on April 9 took place at St. Anselm Catholic Church in Bay Ridge. The April 10 giveaway took place in Marine Park.

The 60-gallon rain barrels are easy to install, according to DEP officials, who said they connect directly to a property owner’s downspout to capture storm water that falls on the rooftop. The water collected in the rain barrel can then be used to water lawns and gardens, or for other outdoor chores.

Rain barrels can help reduce a homeowner’s water bill as watering lawns and gardens can account for up to 40 percent of an average household’s water use during the summer months, DEP officials said.

The barrels also help to reduce the amount of storm water that enters the city’s sewer system.

Over the last several years, DEP has distributed more than 4,000 rain barrels to homeowners.  All of the rain barrels were provided free of charge. 

Installation of rain barrels is easy, according to DEP officials, who said they require little maintenance. Each homeowner who received a rain barrel was provided with an installation kit and a set of instructions.

Rain barrels should only be used for non-potable purposes, such as gardening, and must be disconnected from the downspout during the winter months to avoid freezing.

“By using rain barrels to collect storm water, homeowners in Southwest Brooklyn will help to protect the health of Coney Island Creek, Sheepshead Bay and Jamaica Bay,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “In addition, rain barrels help to conserve our water supply and will reduce homeowner’s water bills.”

Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said the rain barrels are part of an important conservation effort. “The most valuable natural resource is water and this program is leading efforts in helping to preserve and conserve our water supply. New York City continues to be a leader in green initiatives and we are a shining example of an environmentally friendly city,” he said. 

DEP’s Rain Barrel Giveaway Program is part of the city’s Green Infrastructure Plan and is aimed at capturing storm water before it can ever enter the sewer system.

DEP has committed to invest $2.4 billion in green infrastructure projects to reduce sewer overflows by the year 2030, officials said.

The program is an effort to build on DEP’s strategy to conserve water as part of a $1.5 billion initiative to ensure clean, reliable and safe drinking water for more than 9 million New Yorkers for decades to come.

As part of the initiative, DEP has started a project to repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct that supplies roughly half of the city’s daily drinking water. In order to complete these repairs, the tunnel must be temporarily shut down in 2022. Ahead of the planned shutdown, DEP aims to reduce citywide water consumption by 5 percent.

Other water conservation efforts are underway.

DEP is installing activation buttons on spray showers at 400 playgrounds around the city that is expected to save 1.5 million gallons of water a day during the summer months.

Work is underway to install new, high efficiency fixtures in the bathrooms of 500 schools to reduce water consumption by nearly 4 million gallons a day. DEP has also partnered with hotels, restaurants and hospitals to reduce water use at these facilities by 5 percent annually.

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