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Rain collection program may help conserve water in select Utah communities

Two black barrels sit on concrete slabs against a grey house amidst flowers.
Rain Water Solutions Inc.

Amid the megadrought across the western United States, interest in water conservation is growing. On Tuesday, the Utah Rivers Council announced the return of the Rain Barrel Program, a partnership with eleven Utah municipalities to collect rainwater in barrels to help save water. The program is in its eighth year of operation and has gained significant interest across the state.

Zachary Frankel, the executive director of the Utah Rivers Council explained how the barrels work.

“The downspout of the water coming off of people's roofs is articulated to come into this rain barrel. The top of it is like a dish, and it has a mosquito screen in there to collect the sediments that are coming off of the roof and prevent mosquitoes from getting inside and laying their eggs in there,” Frankel explained.

The 50-gallon barrel is produced with 100% recycled material, and the initiative has already brought 5,700 barrels to Utah residents.

For those living in the communities partnered with the initiative, residents can purchase a barrel for $55, less than 40% of the normal retail cost, and Utahns outside these communities can still get a discounted barrel for $83.

Millcreek City Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said water from the barrels is perfect for watering lawns and reducing runoff, especially in the face of the megadrought Utah is currently experiencing.

“They allow our residents to put it to good use and watering their gardens and their lawns,” Silvestrini said. “And that helps us reduce stormwater and the runoff that we would otherwise have into our streets and gutters.”

While the barrels aren’t a magic solution to our water woes, these barrels could reduce our water usage significantly.

“We could reduce our water demand by 10 to 20%, if we had a really high adoption rate of rain barrels in the homeowner sector…and obviously, that would be a really important tool in the toolbox,” Frankel said.

Orders close on April 23rd. More information about participating municipalities and how to order a barrel at

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.