Rain Barrels

Catch the rain that would have washed away! The City of Bremerton is pleased to promote the use of rain barrels, though we do not sell them. View directions on how to make rain barrels (PDF). Some of the tools are specialized and can be costly. However, recommended less-expensive alternatives are discussed. Check local hardware stores to purchase rain barrel parts or kits.

  • Rain barrels help slow runoff and encourage infiltration.
  • Rooftops are impervious surfaces, along with roads, parking lots, driveways and even compacted soils.
  • In a pristine area, even an additional 10% of impervious area alters the natural rainfall runoff cycle and has the potential to damage sensitive ecosystems.
  • Infiltration, allowing the water to soak into nearby soils, will recharge groundwater supplies and return the water cycle to a more natural path.
Water Conservation
Rain barrels help conserve water.
  • Water usage in Bremerton increases in the summer by 30% due to the increase in outdoor water use such as lawn watering, flower and vegetable watering, car washing, and pavement cleaning.
  • Your water supply is unique to your location. Residents of Kitsap County rely upon rainfall to surface water reservoirs, and from underground aquifers, also known as groundwater.
  • The Puget Sound region experiences natural summer droughts where only 20% of the annual rainfall occurs from May to September.
  • By reducing your demand from established water supplies during the dry summer months you are helping the environment and salmon.
Important: Do not use rain barrels for drinking, cooking or bathing.

Water Efficiency
  • Use water wisely by watering your garden with free water collected from your roof.
  • Rain water is great for plants.
  • Connect a soaker hose to your barrel, a great way to water shallow rooted plants.
  • Use your rain barrel in areas where you may not have a convenient spigot. Near your compost pile is a good idea to keep it as wet as a wrung-out sponge, promoting the composting process during the dryer months of summer.
  • Rain water is usually soft and free of dissolved minerals. This untreated water is great for your garden and lawn.
Some Tips
  • Use a 55-gallon food grade quality recycled barrel.
  • Install an overflow at the top. This is an important feature. A full barrel has the potential to spill additional water over the top and may cause localized erosion.
  • Consider attaching the overflow to the downspout with a valve. Simply turn the valve off when the barrel is full and redirecting the runoff back into the downspout.
  • As an alternative to the spigot on the diagram (in the section below), purchase a spigot with a threaded nipple and simply twist it into the 1" hole.
  • Do not use collected water for drinking, cooking or bathing.
  • Keep the lid secure so children or animals cannot fall into the barrel.
  • Disconnect the barrel during the winter to avoid constant overflow during the rainiest months. Attach it in the early spring to fill it for use.
  • Most recycled barrels need to be cleaned before first use.
  • If a moss killer has been used on the roof let a couple of rainfall events go by before collecting the roof runoff.
  • Elevate your rain barrel slightly to make access to the spigot easier.
  • The screened louver vent will prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your barrel.
  • Consider joining multiple barrels for additional capacity!
Making a Rain Barrel is as Easy as 1, 2, 3
Download (PDF) or stop in to the City of Bremerton Public Works and Utilities office for a brochure on how to make your own.

Managing Your Rain Barrel During the Growing Season & Winter

Rain patterns occur so that more rainfall events occur during April, May and June, just when you are establishing your vegetable garden and working in perennial beds. A waterwise approach could be to water annuals and perennials with rain barrel water and mulch heavily to retain moisture during the dryer months of July and August. However, rain showers can occur in July and August to refill the barrels.

Remember to raise your barrels off the ground by placing them on cement or wooden blocks to ease access to the faucet.

Manage heavy rains: It is essential to consider impact of heavy winter rains on your drainage system. An overfull rain barrel has the potential to erode your home's foundation. In all cases your rain barrel should have an overflow spigot near the top on the side. Management ideas include:
  • Connect a hose to the overflow spigot and direct this away from your foundation, a minimum of 2 feet for a crawlspace, and 6 feet for basements.
  • Disconnect the rain barrel from the downspout and return the system to its original configuration.
  • Leave the outlet faucet open and set a splash block under it. Now the rain barrel is an extension of the downspout drainage system. Remember to close the faucet when you desire to fill the rain barrel.
  • Whatever you solution, design the overflow system to encourage infiltration of the water into the ground.
Please Protect Water Quality
Do not send overflow across parking areas, driveways septic drainfields, bare soil, or storage areas for pesticides or heavy equipment. Keep Pollutants out of our streams and Puget Sound.

For more information please call the City of Bremerton Public Works and Utilities at 360-473-5920.