The city of Los Angeles recently announced that it had acquired 1,000 55-gallon syrup barrels and rain barrel conversion kits from Coca-Cola, with the goal of repurposing those barrels and distributing them for free to residential customers.
The only requirement to receive one was to sign up for one of the rain harvesting workshops administered by Keep Los Angeles Beautiful — workshops that filled up instantly with long waiting lists.
"It's tremendous to see Angelenos respond so strongly to our call for action against the drought," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a press release. "Using rainwater to water your yard lowers your water bill and helps conserve our drinking water supply."
Mayor Garcetti said that the free rain barrel offer is now "sold out," but 400 more will be made available in January, along with new workshops.
In the meantime, the Department of Water and Power is offering a $100 per barrel rebate (click on "Landscaping & Irrigation") if you decide to purchase one (limit four barrels per household). This rebate is up from the $75 per barrel previously offered through SoCal Water$mart, and should cover most if not all of the costs of buying your own rain barrel.
But there are a few guidelines:
- The rain barrel must be at least 50 gallons
- The rain barrel must be designed for the intended purpose of rain capture (so no, you cannot recoup the costs of a trash can that you convert into a rain barrel)
- The rain barrel must not be connected to the irrigation system and must be distributed through a hose or bucket
- The rain barrel must be elevated at least 6 inches off the ground and have a cover to prevent mosquitoes, rodents, and debris from entering
Find more guidelines here from SoCal Water$mart.
If you don't want to spend that much money upfront for your own barrel, a quick scan through Craigslist brought up a number of listings for used barrels. Just be sure the barrel did not previously hold any hazardous or toxic substances.
If you live near any local bottling plants or food distributors, sometimes they'll be willing to give you their used 55-gallon drums for free, or at least sell them to you inexpensively. Examples of bottling companies to call and ask include soda, juice, soy sauce, marinade, beer, and grain alcohol distributors.
Once you've found an empty drum, you can turn it into a rain barrel with this simple tutorial from DIY Network.