A tin watering can connected to a green rain barrel

Using a Rain Barrel

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Benefits What to Look for Install Maintenance Resources

Rain barrels are a simple way to capture, store, and use rainwater as it flows from gutters and downspouts onto a property. This helps reduce stormwater pollution to local streams, lakes, and rivers. You can use the water for gardening and even to wash your car or walkway/driveway!

This water should not be used for drinking. 


  1. Rainwater is good for plants and soils;
  2. Recycling rainwater for outdoor household needs conserves drinking water;
  3. Using rainwater instead of treated water can save money and energy; and,
  4. Reducing stormwater runoff by capturing rainwater is good for the environment because less pollution reaches streams and lakes.

What to Look for

Keep this in mind when choosing a rain barrel:

  • Dark-colored rain barrels prevent algae growth;
  • Screens protect against mosquitos breeding in the water;
  • Large overflow hoses help remove excess water;
  • A removable lid is good for maintenance and safety; and,
  • Make sure the rain barrel drains. This will prevent stagnant water.


Rain barrels should be near a downspout on a level and raised surface. The barrel should also be placed a few feet off the ground for easy access to rainwater and to allow the water to drain properly. Rain barrels should not be connected to plumbing for drinking water.


  • Check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they aren’t clogged or leaking
  • Remove debris from the rain barrel screen and repair it when needed
  • Make sure the downspout is secure


Check out these local vendors for more information about purchasing rain barrels at a discounted rate:

EPOCH Rain Barrels
Rain Water Solutions 

The City of Raleigh does not handle rain barrel sales. Please work directly with the vendor for all sales, distribution, and product support. 

Note: Rain barrels do not qualify for Raleigh Rainwater Rewards



Joyce Gaffney
Environmental & Sustainability Specialist 

Lead Department:
Engineering Services
Service Categories:



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