Think of how much rooftop runoff water a rain barrel might have gathered just this month alone. Through Thursday, Myrtle Beach had tallied 1.76 inches, according to data from WPDE-TV 15, with more rain in store to start this weekend.
The Winyah Rivers Foundation’s Waccamaw Riverkeeper program, which focuses on the Waccamaw River and the Winyah Bay watershed, spanning parts of Horry and Georgetown counties, has put precipitation in the forefront for attention this winter through a sale of rain barrels, and long before Earth Day, April 22.
Sales of black, “Ivy” brand rain barrels, which can hold 50 gallons and are made in the United States, continue at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/riverkeeper through 11 p.m. Sunday, for $70. Pickup then will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 31 at Horry-Georgetown Technical College’s Grand Strand campus conference center, 950 Crabtree Lane, Myrtle Beach, near Farrow Parkway and The Market Common. That site also is host that morning for the 2015 Waccamaw Conference: CLEAN (Community Learning and Environmental Awareness Now), for which the public is welcome to attend, for $10 admission.
Connected to a home’s downspout, a barrel is gravity-fed, taking in rainwater from rooftops, preventing flow with potential contaminants into a storm drain, then instead, the water accumulated in a barrel can be used for watering gardens and lawns, especially through drip irrigation and soaker hoses, and for washing cars.
Paula Reidhaar, the Waccamaw Riverkeeper for about a year now, who is based at the Coastal Carolina University Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, shared insight for this rain barrel sales initiative — a project with the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium (also based at CCU, at 349-2839 or cwsec-sc.org) — all to encourage residents with another easy way to help protect and conserve water resources.
Question | How big a team effort is this project to promote these rain barrels among the populace?
Answer | We’ve gone through the Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium in Charleston. They have hosted these rain barrel sales before. … They’re doing the sales, they set up the website. … We’re kind of the in-between to help spread the word for them. This is a cool way to conserve water and protect our waterways from additional contaminants.
Q. | How was this time of year selected, after Christmas, but still in the heart of winter?
A. | Typically, when you host a sale online, you need to have one or more set pickup days or times. We kind of looked to marry it with the Waccamaw Conference, which is focused on educational efforts for the Waccamaw River and the whole Winyah Bay watershed.
Q. | Who participates in the conference?
A. | We get a lot of regional agencies, … such as the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. … It’s a neat chance for a lot of the local folks and anyone interested in the watershed, which we hope gets them motivated.
Q. | How often is this kind of gathering?
A. | About once a year. It’s a neat way to start in the middle of winter. We generally like to host this kind of event at the end of January, where there are not a lot of other big events; it helps us get better attendance, in this off season.
Q. | What basic tips are handy for anyone pondering the purchase of an Ivy rain barrel?
A. | When you go to the website, there are a couple of videos, and instructions, on how to hook everything up. It’s straightforward and simple. … They also suggest raising the rain barrel off the ground, so it’s level and on steady blocks, so the spigot, or ball valve, has some extra height … to connect to your hose for your … watering area.
Q. | Besides a rain barrel’s common connection to a downspout, what else should residents consider with downspouts in general?
A. | You might want to add an extension or angle to your downspout. … We’d rather the water flow go over the grassy portion of your yard than onto the driveway or concrete. And with washing your car, … if you’re able to pull it into part of your yard, without damaging anything underground, to wash it over the grass, that can help, because all that soap and runoff otherwise goes straight into storm drains and eventually into the river or, depending on where you live, straight into the ocean, … and that water isn’t processed before it goes in.
Q. | What other benefits accumulate through the addition of a rain barrel in one’s yard?
A. | A neat thing with this rain barrel program is if you can reuse rainwater when it’s dry in your garden, you’re saving on your water bill, too.
Q. | Since my first visit for a nature program at Myrtle Beach State Park, ranger Ann Malys Wilson’s words reminding everyone leaving the beach to pick up some litter on the way out for disposal in a garbage can nearby has always resonated in my mind. What other simple ways can we the public help preserve our watershed and help Mother Nature overall?
A. | Just know your environment. These little things. Be conscious of the simplest things you can do. Simple things like picking up trash and taking part in cleanup events throughout the year are among easy ways people can do things to help, and in their own backyard.