About Rain Barrels: Popular for residential properties to irrigate small landscapes
Rebate Amount: $70/rain barrel
Size: 40-199 gallons
Installation Requirement: Can be self-installed
Photo: Rain Barrel at a home in Palo Alto
We know you're eager to get started! Make sure to read these steps first. Watch this video to understand if a rain barrel is right for you and learn about rain barrel components, installation, and maintenance.
Start Your Rain Barrel Application Process
Applicants can receive $70/barrel on their rain barrel rebates. Applicants can apply for more than one rain barrel in one rebate. The City of Palo Alto partners with Valley Water to offer cost sharing for Stormwater Rebates. Each property has City Stormwater Rebate lifetime maximum and Valley Water Rebate lifetime maximum. The City Stormwater Rebate lifetime maximum is the total amount of funding that one property can receive across that property’s lifetime specific to Stormwater Rebates offered by the City. The rebates included in the Stormwater Rebate lifetime maximum are:
The Valley Water Rebate lifetime maximum is the total amount of funding that one property can receive across the property lifetime and includes all rebate types offered by the City of Palo Alto and Valley Water (Landscape Conversion, Irrigation Equipment, and Stormwater Rebates). For more information on rebate lifetime maximums please visit Valley Water's Program Overview webpage.
($35 from the City and Valley Water, each)
($35 from the City and Valley Water, each)
Visit your favorite local hardware store to find a rain barrel, online or in person. Here are two local retailers you may also prefer.
Barrel Dreams Inc.
Rain barrels are low-cost, effective, and maintainable water collecting and conservation devices. Rain barrels are often a secondary source of water for irrigation in residential areas. They provide a source of water for gardens and making compost, reducing the demand for potable water especially during dry summers.
Rain barrels can also help slow the flow of runoff and reduce street ponding during storms.
Per Valley Water and the City of Palo Alto, the following requirements must be met to receive a rain barrel rebate:
Installing multiple rain barrels is a great way to save water! Applicants can connect multiple rain barrels using a technique called "Daisy-chaining." This allows for rain to flow through pipes connecting the rain barrels, capturing more rainwater.
Applicants installing multiple rain barrels should be advised that inspections of these sites may be requested by the City on a case-by-case basis. Multi-barrel projects may also require permitting. See "Do I need a City permit for installation of a rain barrel(s)?" below.
A typical rain barrel will include an inlet connected to a downspout, a screen, an overflow pipe, and a spigot at or near the bottom of the barrel. Rain barrels are often made of plastic, metal, wood, stone, or clay.
The size of your system depends on the:
Single-family homes hoping to irrigate a small garden or lawn may prefer one or two large rain barrels sized up to 199 gallons (if larger, visit the cistern rebate page). If you have a larger garden, you may want to install more than one rain barrel. Applicants that desire higher storage capacities may prefer a cistern over a multi-barrel system. Rain barrels often fill up completely during one storm event and this should be considered when selecting the right size barrel(s).
Any rain barrel installation with the following features will need a building permit or consultation with the City of Palo Alto Development Center before installation:
To inquire about permitting, contact the Development Center at (650) 329-2496 and select Option 3 for Building Plan Check Team when prompted. Permit approval should be submitted at the time of your application.
Single rain barrel installations do not require a pre or post-installation inspection. However, rain barrels that are connected to potable water or automatic irrigation may require a pre-inspection of the property. There may be other situations where the City may require a pre-inspection. If this is the case, the City will contact you to set up an inspection.
Rain barrels need little maintenance once installed. San Francisco Water, Power, and Sewer(PDF, 18MB) suggests following these simple steps to maintain rain barrels:
Back to the Stormwater Rebate Program Homepage
Last updated on January 07, 2023