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Northern Utah water saving program returns

Rainy day
Ryan Chia
Man using umbrella on a rainy day

The Utah Rivers Council announced Tuesday the return of their RainHarvest barrel program, now in its 10th year. In partnership with 15 participating municipalities, they are distributing 2,100 50-gallon rain barrels to households across northern Utah, at a discounted rate of $55 per barrel.

“They are established on the down spouts on the rain gutter from residents homes,” Zach Frankel said.

Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council, Zach Frankel, said it's important to collect local rain water because it conserves water by reducing demand on municipal water supplies.

“The water can be used out of a basic garden hose with just gravity pressure of the water barrel itself to water plants and grass and gardens,” Frankel said.

He added that the water is not safe to use for drinking water since it's coming off of roofs, but that it does help reduce outdoor water demand and improves water quality.

"And the reason for that is because urban water runoff during storm events collects a number of pollutants and contaminants off of our roadways."

For example, he said that studies across the United States show that contaminants in gutters during rainstorms, such as rubber from tires or household wastes, increases in rivers and lakes during these rain events.

“And so collecting surface water runoff during storm events and trying to prevent it from rolling over paved surfaces helps put it into the ground to recharge our aquifers. So, collecting rain water helps with that as well and this why it's partly so popular across the United States,” Frankel said.

He added the benefits of the conserved water from rain barrels will help benefit Great Salt Lake and will also save you a little bit of money from not having to use as much outdoor irrigation water.

It is legal to collect rain water in Utah, up to 2500 hundred gallons, as long as collectors register with the Utah Division of Water Rights. In the 10 years, over 11,000 rain barrels have been distributed in northern Utah. That equates to about 550,000 gallons of water during each rain event, according to Frankel.

The limited supply of subsidized barrels are available for pick up at four locations during the first week of May. To purchase them, a verification process is required.

Sheri's career in radio began at 7 years old in Los Angeles, California with a secret little radio tucked under her bed that she'd fall asleep with, while listening to The Dr. Demento Radio Show. She went on to produce the first science radio show in Utah in 1999 and has been reporting local, national and international stories ever since. After a stint as news director at KZYX on northern California's Lost Coast, she landed back at UPR in 2021.