Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Rain Barrels


Food gardens need water and what better way to give plants a drink than with soft, warm, oxygen-filled rainwater straight from the rain barrel. Even just a wee bit saved in a barrel after a storm, then transferred to a watering can, will slake the thirst of a balcony of plants. And you, the recycler, will feel especially good knowing that you are diverting water that would otherwise flow out into the storm sewers.

Vancouver Barrel

City of Vancouver Rain Barrel

The City of Vancouver no longer provides subsidized rain barrels. (June 2014)

City of Vancouver residents can call the Compost Hotline at 604-736-2250 for information on rain barrels. Residents can also visit City Farmer, at the City of Vancouver's Compost Demonstration Garden, at 2150 Maple Street to see rain barrels in use.

Further information:
Water Conservation Hotline

To purchase the half barrels no longer sold by the City of Vancouver contact:
Flexihopper in Delta, BC
7157 Honeyman ST Unit 12

If you have a City rain barrel and need replacement parts, please get in touch with:
Flexahopper Plastics Ltd., located in Delta.
Contact info is: 1-888-328-8176

Roll Out the Rain Barrels?
Rain barrel proponents claim that barrels conserve water, reduce urban runoff, and save money. But is it true?

The Rainwater Technology Handbook
"In focusing on the advantages of utilizing rainwater, the author emphasizes its global dimension by offering case studies from all parts of the world, as well as comments and planning information by international experts. He demonstrates the state-of the-art in Germany by providing extensive examples, supported by numerous photos and drawings."

Harvest H20
" is dedicated to the advancement of sustainable water management practices for individuals, families, communities, and businesses."

Gardening Without Irrigation
See this excellent book by Steve Solomon, published complete, on-line. "So, to write Gardening Without Irrigation I grew two gardens side-by-side: a large "dry" garden and another large one intensive style, on raised beds with lots of irrigation. The "dry" garden was a place where I "grew with one hand tied behind my back" so to speak."

The Rainwater Harvesting CD
"The information has been collected from all over the world, from South and North, and from rural and urban areas. The emphasis is on domestic use of rainwater harvesting. The CTA Study Visit in Kenya shows many photos (additionally explained by voice) of different possibilities of rainwater harvesting used in Kenya." Posted November 23, 2002

Stark Environmental
"Stark Environmental is a full service consultancy specializing in Rainwater Harvesting and Stormwater Management"

Rainbarrel Links on the Internet:

Aquabarrel offers more than just rain barrels in the US. Our line includes downspout filters from Australia and downspout diverters Made in the USA. And for those that already have a barrel and need plans or a kit - we have those too!

Rain Barrel Guide
Instructions on determining how much water you use, how much you can collect from rain runoff, and clear instructions on setting up your own system.

Garden Watersaver
"The Garden Watersaver is an automatic rain water collection system that has advantages over other rain water collecting systems."

Garden Watersaver
Canadian Site "The Garden Watersaver is an automatic rain water collection system that has advantages over other rain water collecting systems."

Rainsaver Rain Barrel System

Rain Barrel Information and Sources for the Pacific Northwest
The Water & Land Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources

Rainwater Harvesting information
City of Seattle Water Conservation information

Texas Rain Harvesting

Rain Barrel Guide

Rain Barrel has all your rain water harvesting and water conservation products. Browse our great selection of rain barrels, rain diverters and water accessories and start conserving water today.

Spruce Creek Rainsaver

Collect Rainwater for Gardening, Aquariums, and Pets

Rainbarrels from Supermart

Rain Barrel by Aaron

Dan Borba's Rainbarrels

Approved Rainbarrel Suppliers

Great American Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels

Real Goods Rain Barrel (Type in "Rain")

Portland Rainbarrel

Twin Maple Rain Water Storage

Calgary Plastic Container Supply Ltd.

Edmonton Rainbarrel Project

Smart-Valve Rainwater Diverters provides a rain barrel selection of water barrels, compost bins, and decorative rain barrels.

Rain Tank Depot


Rain Water Barrel

Rockymountainrainbarrel Small business building wooden rain barrels.

Austin rain tanks, barrels and cisterns

Rainwater to Drinking Water

"The biggest issue in collecting rainwater is keeping it free of muck such as leaves, bird droppings and dead animals, and avoiding contamination with pollutants like heavy metals and dust." From the Sustainable House "In 1996, a Sydney family set out to renovate their 100 year old terrace house in the inner-city suburb of Chippendale. With a bit of vision, some common sense, and a lot of tenacity, they built what most of us would think impossible... a house in the middle of Australia's biggest city that produces its own power and water, and reuses its sewage on site."

Melbourne Water Autonomous House

The Campus Center for Appropriate Technology

Oasis Design Ecological Design Consulting Water, Wastewater & Solar Systems Edible Landscaping, Greywater Books

New greenhouse system for food-production, solar energy transfer and water recycling/desalination


City of Toronto

Toronto Water
1530 Markham Road, 4th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M1B 3G4
Phone: (416) 392-1807
Fax: (416) 392-9474
Ontario Barrel

The Rain Saver
from Water Conservation Technology
P.O. Box 121, Sydenham, Ontario K0H 2T0 Canada


The International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (IRCSA)

The IRCSA is a new association aiming to link those with an interest in the direct collection of rainwater and its storage for domestic and agricultural supply. The seeds for the establishment of the Association were first sown when the first International Rainwater Cistern Systems Conference was convened in Hawaii in June 1982 by Prof. Fok. Subsequent International Conferences have followed on a two-yearly basis and were held in the US Virgin Islands (1984), Thailand (1987), Philippines (1989), Taiwan (1991), Kenya (1993) and China (1995).

"Whilst rainwater catchment systems have long been utilised in some parts of the Caribbean, Middle East and Australia, in other places its potential has only recently been realised. During the last decade, Thailand and Kenya, for example, have led their respective continents in demonstrating the enormous potential of this technology. In Thailand more than 10 million two thousand litre ferrocement roof catchment tanks have been constructed since 1985 for domestic water supply, while in Kenya the construction of large (10 to lOOm3) ferrocement tanks has gained popularity in many regions with thousands being built at schools, clinics and private homes.

"Utilisation of rainwater catchment systems has also been spreading in other parts of Asia (e.g. Nepal, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines) as well as in Africa (e.g. Botswana, Mali and Tanzania). In industrialised countries too interest in rainwater collection is growing as demonstrated by recent developments in Australia, Hawaii and Singapore. Japan has traditionally used rainwater catchment systems and is currently making adjustments to meet the requirements of urban environments."

IRCSA Membership Account:
c/o International Water Resources Association
1101 West Peabody Drive
Urbana IL 61801-4723 USA

More Information:
Mr. John E. Gould
Secretary-General (IRCSA)
University of Botswana
P/Bag 0022
Gaborone, Botswana

Further Reading:
Raindrop (Newsletter of the IRCSA)

Tokyo International Rainwater Utilization Conference

RAIN CARTOON Rainwater & You "100 Ways to Use Rainwater
See the main page for contact information: People for Rainwater Utilization
by Group Raindrops
Organizing Committee for the Tokyo International Rainwater Utilization Conference
Sumida City Office Building
1-23-20 Azumabashi, Sumida City Tokyo 130, Japan
1995, 176 pages

"It is estimated that 60% of the world population will concentrate into urban areas by the middle of the 21st century. ... Population in Asia, Africa and Latin America will continue to concentrate into large cities and, as a result, those cities will confront the problem "Urban Droughts and Urban Floods". ... A new rainwater culture is required in which cities can live more harmoniously with rain." (from the forward by Makoto Murase, Conference Secretary-General)

Also available from the above office:
Excerpts of Questions & Answers
Tokyo International Rainwater Utilization Conference
March 1995, 41 pages

The rain falling on the roof of the Sumida City Office, an 18-storey building completed in 1990, is collected in an underground 1000 m3 tank. The drainage from the bathrooms and restaurants in the building as well as the rainwater, is sterilized and used for flushing toilets.

According to data from 1993, the amount of water used for flushing toilets for that year was about 13,600m3. 7000m3 of that was rainwater, and recycled drainage accounted for 4000m3. This means that within the City Office alone, 11,000m3 of water were saved during that one year. This amount is equivalent to the amount of water needed to fill approximately 55,000 family bathtubs (200 liters).


Water-Saving Devices

Compiled by Lone Hansen, Andrew Giles
BSRIA (The Building Services Research and Information Assoc. Bracknell, Berkshire, UK
One of six reports in a series on Environmentally Friendly Systems and Products
Published in October 1997, 49 pages
This series of reports was funded by the Department of Trade and Industry and a group of industrial sponsors.

Market report now available from BSRIA, priced 250.
Contact Rachel Slater or Peter Cooke Tel: +44 1344426511, Fax: +44 1344487575

The Water Saving Devices report reviews the market for these products world-wide, assesses their market potential in the UK and examines what can be done to increase the uptake of this technology. Those water saving devices analysed in the report include:

"There are two categories of waste water: grey and black water. Grey water is all waste water from baths, showers and hand basins, domestic appliances and fittings. Black water is fouled water from toilets and bidets. The grey water that can be recycled is approximately 26% of the average consumption in a domestic dwelling (or 47% if the washing machine is included). The water used for toilet flushing is approximately 33% and outside use is approximately 3% of the average consumption. Grey water for toilet flushing can be supplemented by mains or rain water. The pay back time for grey water systems using waste water for toilet flushing is between 7 and 15 years depending on capital costs (500-1,000) and based on an average price of 1.28 per M3. The pay back time is reduced to 4-8 years in the South West where the price per M3 is 2.30. The payback time for grey water systems is shorter than rainwater systems but the manufacturers/installers need to consider the end users perception and attitude, health and safety aspects and legislation and planning permission."


"Envirosink is an environmentally helpful additional, or secondary sink that utilises all standard plumbing fittings. Envirosink allows you to conserve the 'light' gray water from your kitchen. Envirosink is the only system that allows some catchment of water at the kitchen sink -- to help fill your rain barrel in the dry season."


"Here in Bermuda all residential properties catch rainwater on the roof. This is constructed of lapped limestone slate on a timber frame. The water collected drains down into a water tank which is located beneath the house. The general rule of thumb is that the tank must be large enough to hold, in gallons, an amount calculated by multiplying the roof area of the house by eight and a quarter. This water collection system has been in use for many, many years." (Department of Planning, Bermuda)

Department of Planning
Government Administration Building
30 Parliament Street, Hamilton HM12, Bermuda
Phone: (809) 295-5151
Fax: (809) 295-4100

Rainwater Collection Systems
Videotape and Booklet, revised 1995
Morris Media Associates, Inc.
4306 Wildridge Circle
Austin, Texas 78759 USA

"Rainwater Collection Systems is the story of three families from the Texas Hill Country who collect rainwater for all their household needs, including drinking. And they would say 'especially' drinking!

'When emergency room physician Dr. Mike McElveen and his wife Kathy decided to collect enough rainwater for all their needs, their system became the model for others in their area to follow. A 50 page booklet accompanies each half-hour video.'


Emergency Water, Soft Water, Chemical Free Water from Plastmo
Non mechanical rain water diverter used to collect water for chlorine sensitive plants.

Rainwater Harvesting: An Alternative To The Roof Washer "When rain falls on a roof it usually starts gently and then increases in intensity. This rainfall will wash adhering pollutants such as soot and bird manure into the storage cistern causing faecal contamination. With leaf debris present, "ponding" of stagnant water in gutters can occur making matters worse. It is for this reason many authorities discourage or forbid the use of urban collected rainwater for human consumption. However, due to water shortages, rainwater collection for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing etc is beginning to be encouraged."

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Revised Jan 27, 2015

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture