City Distributes Free Rain Barrels to Conserve Water

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Once again this spring, the city is offering 1,000 free rain barrels to residents of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx as part of a program to help reduce the amount of water that flows into the city's sewer system.

Farrell Sklerov, with the Department of Environmental Protection, said the 55-gallon barrels can easily be attached to drainage spouts, and residents can later connect a hose to use that water for their gardening needs.

Steve Frillman, with the gardening group Green Guerillas, said similar systems are used in community gardens throughout the city, and they help divert significant amounts of water.

"To a certain extent we believe that community garden groups doing this, and homeowners doing this, it's a way to start," he said. He noted that the program helps with conservation too.

Frillman also has some other conservation tips like using organic soil to increase absorption and mulch to keep water in your garden from evaporating too quickly.

The rain barrel program is part of the city's green infrastructure initiative. About 400 Brooklyn residents picked up the free barrels this weekend. The next giveaway is next Saturday, April 30, at Cunningham Park in Queens. Bronx and Staten Island residents can pick up their barrels on May 7. There's no distribution in Manhattan.