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Rain Barrel Update: Huge Response for City’s Blue Barrels

October 18, 2010




Mike Heimos is the storm water educator for the city of Columbia. Heimos organized Columbia’s rain barrel program and continues to manage the project. I reported a story for KOMU TV on how Heimos and other people in Columbia are using rain barrels to save money, better nourish plants, and eventually stop run-off into the creeks and streams throughout mid-Missouri. A few weeks later, I’ve caught up with him too see how the program is doing now.

How many people have requested rain barrels since the story aired on KOMU?
After we did the story, we got quite the response. I’d say about 150 people signed up. I asked where they heard about the program and most people said they saw it on the news.

Have you faced a shortage of barrels due to the huge increase in requests?
Not quite, but I have a wait list. When Pepsi Co. calls me and lets me know they have barrels, I get them and arrange for the people on the list to get barrels. But I did get so many responses my voice mail kept filling up.  I actually had to go to IT and set up a separate email and develop an online form to request a barrel. I was so overwhelmed, being just one guy, and this online form really helped.

How long will people have to wait to get their barrel?
It really depends on how many barrels Pepsi Co has available to give. The company gives barrels they can no longer use and sometimes it’s five barrels, sometimes it’s 10, sometimes it’s more.

What kind of impact do you think the rain barrel program has had?
This year was a dry run to see what the response would be. It’s exactly what I’ve hoped for. People are more aware, and once you start down this road, you start realizing the things that do affect your local water ways. The rain barrel program helps people to be more conscious about local water, and it’s saving them money on their water bill.

What kind of reactions have you gotten from people using their rain barrels?
They think it’s a great program and they’re excited that the city’s doing it. Several people have called me back, elated. Most of the people said they would hook it up in the spring due to the fact that the weather would be changing so quickly. So if people want to get barrels now, they can sign up all through the winter and have their barrel ready for spring. People have even sent me pictures of their rain barrels.

Want to set up a rain barrel for your house? Get in touch with Mike and his team at the City of Columbia’s Blue Rain Barrel program. Here’s another resource to help you find rain barrels in Columbia. Here’s a video and some instructions on how to set one up.

Started using one already? Share your stories and photos of using a rain barrel and we’ll feature them here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 23, 2010 12:35 pm

    That is really neat that the city is offering this kind of program. Rain barrels are so useful. They can really help with run-off and lowering water bills.

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