Install Rain Barrels

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores a portion of the rainwater that runs out of a downspout or off of a roof, keeping this runoff out of rivers and streams. A rain barrel allows for the slow release of rainwater into the ground (or collects it for later use). This simple system prevents the rapid flow of stormwater across the ground and into storm drains which often overwhelms the stormwater system. By diverting water from storm drains, the impact of runoff into streams and the Chesapeake Bay is greatly decreased which can have a significant impact on water quality. While the collected water is unsafe for drinking, it can be used for non-potable purposes like watering plants or washing cars. On average, rain barrel owners can save over 1,300 gallons of water each summer!

Follow the instructions below to build your own rain barrels or purchase a ready-made rain barrel from a hardware stores, garden center or local governments. Consider a rain garden as well. Often spots that work for a rain barrel are also good locations for a rain garden project!

Before You Start

Overview: Project Planning Basics

Overview: School Ground Site Assessment

Design and Preparation

Tools and Materials

Decorate Your Barrel


Rain Barrel Installation Instructions

Watch a Chesapeake Bay Program Rain Barrel Installation Video


Rain Barrel Maintenance Tips

Using Your Project

Tips for Using Your Rain Barrel

Water Quality: Lessons and Activities

Water Quality Monitoring: Lessons & Opportunities

Eco School Sustainability Pathways Lessons & Resources

Eco School National Standards & Curriculum Alignment

Project Learning Tree Curriculum Offerings

Eco Schools Green STEM Initiative

Sharing Your Project

Overview: Sharing Your Project

Resource Center

Project Resource Library: Learn More!
Eco Schools USA Handbook
National & State Green School Programs
Bay Backpack Teaching Resources Search Engine
EPA Learning & Teaching About the Environment (awards, resources, more)