Rain Barrels


Rain Barrel

Rain barrels are low-cost, effective, and easily maintainable water conservation devices that can be used to reduce runoff volume and, for smaller storm events, delay and reduce the peak runoff flow rates from residential and commercial sites. By storing and diverting rainfall runoff from roofs, these devices reduce the undesirable impacts of runoff that would otherwise flow swiftly into gutters and storm drains and contribute to flooding and erosion problems in creeks. Due to their relatively small volume, rain barrels are most commonly used as a

secondary source of water for gardening in residential areas. If larger water storage volumes are desired, larger tanks called cisterns can be used to collect rooftop runoff. Rain barrels can provide a source of chemically untreated 'soft water' for gardens and compost, free of most sediment and dissolved salts. Because residential irrigation can account for up to 40% of domestic water consumption, water conservation measures such as rain barrels can be used to reduce the demand on the municipal water system, especially during the hot summer months.

For residential applications, a typical rain barrel design will include a hole at the top to allow for flow from a roof downspout, a sealed lid, an overflow pipe and a spigot at or near the bottom of the barrel. The spigot can be left partially open to detain water or closed to fill the barrel. The top opening must be fitted with a screen in order to control mosquitoes and other insects. The stored water can then be used for lawn and garden watering. Rain barrels can be connected to provide larger volumes of storage.

Rain barrels should generally NOT be directly connected to your home's potable water or automatic irrigation system. Rain barrels connected directly to a potable water or automatic irrigation system must be equipped with a certified backflow device and must be permitted, inspected and approved by the City Building Inspection Division prior to installation.

Rebate Information
Purchase and install a rain barrel and receive a $50 rebate.

Where to Purchase Rain Barrels Locally
(This partial list represents stores that have expressed interest in providing rain barrels. Additional stores will be added as we become aware of them.)

Hassett Ace Hardware  (Rain barrels available via special order.)
875 Alma Street

Aaron's Barrels and Containers
1219 Old Bayshore Hwy
San Jose

Rain Savers
Brad Daniel

Links to additional information on rain barrels

Installation of innovative stormwater measures may qualify for "points" under one of the green building rating systems specified in the City's Green Building Ordinance. Review the City’s Sustainability Program for further information.


Green Building Rating Systems: