New York City Launches Rain Barrel Program To Conserve Water



A Smart Investment

Average rainfall in New York City for June, July and August is about 12 inches. Annually, the city gets about 120 days of rain totaling almost 50 inches. Now New Yorkers can catch some rain and reduce their water bills at the same time by taking advantage of the City's free rain barrel program.

According to the City's Department of Environment, New Yorkers will save money on their water bills through the rain barrel program by using a natural resource to water lawns and gardens instead of their outdoor faucets. Almost 40 percent of total home water usage is devoted to watering gardens and lawns during the summer.

“This is exactly the kind of smart, local investment envisioned in the New York City Green Infrastructure Plan that Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg launched last September,” DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway said in an April 16 press release.

Installation of the rain barrels requires minimum work and little maintenance, simply connecting the rain barrel directly to an existing downspout to collect rainwater. A hose connected in the spigot of the rain barrel allows homeowners to water their lawns and gardens. In the winter, the rain barrels must be disconnected from the downspout to avoid freezing.

The DEP believes long-term sewer management costs can be reduced $2.4 billion by 2030— the exact amount invested in green infrastructure—thereby helping to reduce water bills.

DEP provides more than one billion gallons of water each day to more than nine million New Yorkers, including eight million in the city. For more information, visit

About New York City's Plan

There are 7,400 miles of sewer lines taking wastewater to 14 treatment plants in the city. During heavy storms, the city sewer system often reaches capacity and a mix of storm water and wastewater runoff is discharged into New York Harbor. That runoff is called combined sewer overflow.

The DEP giveaway of more than 1,000 rain barrels throughout the five boroughs will help alleviate pressure on the city sewer system during storms by capturing and reusing rainwater. With a capacity of up to 55 gallons, rain barrels can individually capture thousands of gallons of water each year to be used by homeowners for irrigation and gardening purposes, rather than letting it run into catch basins.

Rain barrels can also help to reduce local street flooding and demand on the water system under drought conditions. The Green Infrastructure Plan seeks to improve the quality of water in New York Harbor by reducing sewer overflows 40 percent by 2030 and investing $2.4 billion in green infrastructure. Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and other structural elements to absorb and evaporate water. The rain barrel element of the program began as a pilot initiative in Queens in 2008.


To Learn More:

Click on New York City to curb sewage surges with green infrastructure

Click on New York City's Green Infrastructure Plan: “Green and Blue Coming to a Rooftop Near You

NYC green infrastructure plan - cover (360p) - october 2010

Posted April 2011