City Offers Rain Barrels to Curb Residential Flooding

by Dave Noble, City News Editor

ELMHURST – Emphasizing that it is not the final solution to solve residential flooding in Elmhurst which often occurs during heavy rainfall, Stormwater Communications Committee Chairman Ben Olsen told reporters at a press conference Monday that rain barrels available for purchase through the city are an excellent transitory stopgap for flood zone residents to “stymie” water from saturating their backyards and submerging their basements.

“This is a ‘win-win’ concept for residents and for Elmhurst,” said Olsen of the city’s partnership with The Conservation Foundation to sell the 55 gallon reclaimed and “up-cycled” barrels.  “Homeowners get a suitable band-aid to prevent flooding, the city collects a $70 permit fee and can start concentrating on long-term stormwater projects, and on top of that, it’s eco-friendly.  So actually it’s a ‘win-win-win….win’.”

Designed to catch and store rainwater from the roof of a home, the barrel attaches to a gutter downspout.  A hose is attached to a valve at the bottom of the barrel, which allows for lawn and garden watering, or to divert water to a neighbor’s backyard.   

“The barrels will hold about 30 minutes worth of rain from the roof of an average-sized home,” stated Olsen, who became visibly angered when asked about rainfall lasting longer than 30 minutes.  “Precipitation of that length only happens during a 100-year flood.”

While residents may purchase a rain barrel from anywhere they choose, the city’s barrels – available for $57 through the Finance Counter at City Hall – come with free delivery and are abundantly available.

“We’re counting on people to buy the barrels through us,” said Olsen, noting that the city purchased more than 1,500 rain barrels earlier this year from web sites such as eBay, Amazon and Craig’s List.  “But if we have any left by the end of May, Elmhurst City Centre is going to use them for a public art exhibit of local culture.”

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