HELENA - Montana has been lucky here as of late, with some rain and snow blowing through the state.
But even with the mountains looking snowcapped, we’re still, more than likely, looking at lean reserves later this summer.
That’s where a rain barrel can really come in handy.
Rain barrels are a relatively cheap and easy way that we can take some of the pressure off water supplies in cities like Helena.
If you remember, last summer Helena had to put water restrictions in place following low spring run-off and reported record water use on multiple days in June.
With a rain barrel, you can help with that problem and potentially save yourself some money.
“I mean when you think about, people are pulling from the city water supply, which is treated water, it’s kind of expensive to go through that process," Lewis & Clark Conservation District Resource Technician Connor Mertz told us. "So being able to pull from a supply that is not necessarily human consumable, but it’s perfectly fine for your lawn or garden is really important to offset some of that demand.”
And it can be surprisingly effective. For example, Helena can average about one inch of precipitation in April.
Collect that off a 1,000 square foot roof and you could potentially have more than 623 gallons of water to use for your lawn or garden.
“As many people in Helena know, we live in a very dry area," said Mertz. "So as the valley continues to develop, water needs continue to increase, there is only a limited supply. So the way folks irrigate their lawn, their garden, use water at home with both managing their lawn has a really important impact on our water resource in the valley.”
Once you have the water stored, the next thing you have to think about is when to use it.
"A really big thing is just timing for watering," Mertz said. "A lot of people water, you see it all the time throughout town and out in the valley, they are watering in the middle of the day when it is hottest during the summer and if you think about how much that irrigation water is evaporating, just on the surface immediately. So we generally recommend that people water at night when it’s cooler or first thing in the morning.”