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Betsy Gilliland, Staff Writer 08/01/2004

The Chester County Conservation District is offering a popular water conservation program, which began in 2002, again this year.

The district is selling 50-gallon rain barrels for $35 each to protect the Brandywine-Christiana watershed. About 125 barrels are available for purchase.

"You just put them under any of your rain spouts, and you can collect the rainwater that comes off of your roof," said Charlotte Sprenkle, watersheds coordinator.

Residents can use the recycled rainwater in a variety of ways that include watering their plants, washing their cars or bathing their dogs, she said.

The rain barrels are available to residents that live in the Brandywine-Christiana watershed. The area includes East and West Nantmeal, Honey Brook Township and borough, Wallace, Uwchlan, Upper Uwchlan, East and West Brandywine, Caln, West Caln, Valley, Sadsbury, East Fallowfield, East and West Bradford, West Whiteland, West Goshen, Birmingham, Pocopson, Pennsbury, East Marlborough, Kennett, New Garden, London Grove, Penn, Franklin, London Britain, New London, Londonderry and Highland.

The barrels also are available to residents of Downingtown, Kennett Square, West Grove, Modena, Coatesville, South Coatesville and West Chester.

By collecting storm water, said Sprenkle, the barrels prevent thermal and nonpoint pollution, which includes fertilizer and pesticides, from entering the Brandywine and Christiana rivers and their tributaries.

"Storm water is pretty much an unused resource," said Sprenkle.

The containers are made from recycled olive oil barrels. They are retrofitted with a spigot, secondary connection and overflow valve. The barrels also have screens to prevent mosquito infestation and the spread of West Nile virus. Some assembly is required.

The water conservation program is part of a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Delaware. Other programs funded by the grant include retrofitting storm water basins to handle more runoff and to provide for water infiltration, promoting best management practices and education.

This is the first time the district has charged for the barrels, said Sprenkle.

"We followed suit with several of the other conservation districts," she said. "And when you charge for something, people place a greater value on it."

She said the grant did not cover the entire cost of the barrels this year.

In addition, she said, commercial entities charge about $100 for the barrels.

"People start calling about the rain barrels in the spring," said Renee Washington of the Conservation District. "There’s always an interest for them."

The rain barrels are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Conservation District will not accept telephone reservations.

The barrels can be purchased with cash or by checks made out to the Chester County Conservation District. Payment is required at the time of pickup.

Rain barrels can be picked up in front of the farmhouse at the Government Services Center, 601 Westtown Road.

They can be picked up Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

İDaily Local News 2004

Reader Opinions: 

Name: George Vargo                                                                                           

Date: Aug, 01 2004

Wow! 50 gallons x 125 barrels = 6250 gallons. Barely a proverbial drop in the bucket for a sadly distressed watershed! What we need is an ordinance in Chester County requiring a rain barrel on every new single family dwelling constructed in the county to help mitigate the impacts of new residential streets and driveways. Better yet -- require one on every home built in the last five years!


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