East County Homeowners Prep for El Niño With Rain Barrels

Currently, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) is offering rebates of up to $300 for the usage of four 50-gallon rain barrels

With El Niño conditions expected to persist, some east San Diego residents are preparing for the next round of heavy storms with special barrels used to capture rainwater.

Such is the case for Jamul homeowners Juan and Lizbeth Diaz. The couple bought four barrels to capture rainwater through their storm drains. They plan to use that water for their plants and trees.

“It’s a good way to conserve water since we have such a big yard, a good way to spread it out through our yard,” Lizbeth told NBC 7.

Juan said it was pretty easy install the rain barrels. He followed the instructions that came with them, and had the required tools in his garage.

Currently, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) is offering rebates of up to $300 for the usage of four 50-gallon rain barrels, or $75 per qualifying barrel. Since this rebate program began in October 2013, MWD has paid homeowners $1.1 million.

Lizbeth admits the idea of using the barrels for her home took a bit of convincing, but she is happy with the result. Aesthetically, she said the barrels match her home, which is part of the appeal.

“When my husband told me about them, I was kind of scared. I thought they were going to be those big bulky ones,” she explained. “I thought they looked pretty cool. They go with the house well. So I really like them.”

Lizbeth says the barrels also double as a home for her flowers and plants.

“It's not just a barrel that has water. It's a planter, [with] nice little plants. It matches the house,” Juan added.

Lizbeth and Juan bought the rain barrels last month and were able to fill them up during the recent El Nino storms. From his experience, Juan says it takes about 10 minutes of rain to fill up the barrels.

“Before the rain begins, I like to empty my tanks. Then I'm ready to collect more water,” he explained.

The rain barrels also have another unexpected benefit: keeping some plants out of reach of gophers, who like to eat roots.

“I don't know why we have gophers all over our dirt. So when our kids run around, their shoes sink in. So instead of having plants on the ground that the gophers are going to eat up, we just have them on top of our rain barrels and it works out,” said Lizbeth.

While the rain barrels help with water conservation, the MWD said the main purpose of the barrels is to teach homeowners about rain harvesting.

For now, there is no end date for MWD’s barrel rebate program. So, if you're thinking about intalling some of them at your home, you can get more information on the program here. MWD also offers several other rebates on household items that save water.

Homeowners should also check with their individual water district for water-saving incentives.

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