Coastal Alabama rain barrel program reduces residential stormwater impacts
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, polluted stormwater is the No. 1 water-quality issue. Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots and building rooftops) and does not percolate into the ground. The runoff accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment and other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if it is untreated and discharged into waterways. The primary method to control stormwater discharge is the use of best management practices (BMPs).
As part of the Alabama Rain Barrel Project, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) conducted workshops for citizens to build 55-gallon rain barrels. The workshops included educational sessions that taught citizens how to protect water quality and conserve water resources. Additionally, the session discussed how rain barrels help protect water quality, replenish groundwater sources and reduce the use of potable water. The workshops also stressed the importance of proper disposal of household wastes and appropriate fertilizer application practices in an effort to minimize the impacts of pollutants impacting coastal waters.
At workshops, 45 area residents constructed rain barrels, which were then installed at their residences. In addition to workshops, the Coastal Alabama Rain Barrel program has worked with partners to install low impact development (LID) demonstration sites and provide rain barrels for area schools and community gardens. To date, over 700 rain barrels have been constructed at workshops in Coastal Alabama and Mississippi. Post-workshop surveys indicate workshop attendees were willing to adopt other best management practices, in addition to rain barrels, to help protect coastal water resources. These rain barrels, and cisterns installed in three area LID demonstration projects, keep approximately 2,242,800 gallons of stormwater from entering local waterways every year.
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant rain barrel workshops and LID demonstration sites have raised awareness and educated the public about water quality impacts associated with urban stormwater runoff. Workshops have enabled coastal residents to implement practical BMPs, reducing residential stormwater runoff. (2014)