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Here Comes the Rain Again...

A rain barrel primer from the Climate Action Committee

With a long-established regional warming trend — and therefore a snow pack that is less reliable — Lions Bay can expect earlier and longer periods of outdoor water restrictions (see HERE for 2023 levels) as more water conservation measures are needed to maintain supplies for fire prevention and household use.

A basic, light and cheap model will fit in 5 door vehicles with the back seats down.

The upcoming summer is already likely to be challenging considering the existing snowpack, combined with forecasted hotter and drier summer conditions. Anyone paying attention to Council meetings will have noted that the Village is planning for worst-case conditions.

So, do you want to continue to water the garden you've spent hours cultivating in the spring? Or rinse the boat or paddleboard you've had in salt water? Or bathe your dog, which has rolled in something you wish it hadn’t?

An option we strongly recommend is to start and maintain water storage for outdoor use. And in a worst-case scenario, the same water can be used to supplement indoor plumbed supplies.

The simplest option available for storage is adding rain barrels to your property, which can then be used to either capture rainwater or be filled from hosepipes when water supplies are plentiful in the spring.

Options . . .

A more decorative model, currently being used for storage but could be fed from a gutter.

Most rain barrels hold between 200 and 300 litres and cost between $100 and $200. Home Depot, Rona and others sell barrels that are designed to blend in with buildings and landscapes. Other rain barrels don’t pretend to be anything more than a water source, and therefore look like a very large bucket with a lid. Most have an intake for collection with a screen to trap debris and critters, an outlet with a hose connector, and an overflow. A further option is to get a larger water tote, which is usually 1,000 litres or larger.

The simplest way to use a barrel or tote is to fill it using a hosepipe while the Village is still on Level 1 water restrictions. However, once we reach Level 2 that is no longer an option, and you may wish to set up your barrel to capture rain from a gutter – this fills them very effectively, though the water is then not potable.

When Should I Get On This?

A cascade.

Now. If you go shopping for water barrels in July, you will be disappointed. This is precisely the time to prepare for water restrictions by adding outdoor storage.

Anything else?

Rainwater is not ‘potable’, officially at least – dogs don’t seem to care much. However, using Halazone tablets can make rainwater safe to drink for us bipeds. Secondly, every litre of water that comes through our pipes costs us for treatment to make it potable.

Just a thought, but we can reduce our future needs (and cost of water) year-round by harvesting rainwater for uses that don’t require potable water.

How can homeowners harvest and use rainwater?

While YouTube shows numerous ways to harvest rainwater, it is also feasible to collect it from the roof. Alternatively, rain barrel(s) can be filled from the village supply in early summer when water is plentiful, and held until it is in short supply. A simple screen will keep out critters and other stuff. It is only necessary to clean them when they are being refilled. In the cascade example, shown above, rain is harvested from a gutter – a sustained rainfall over a day will fill the main barrel. The overflow is used to fill a second barrel. The resident who has this set-up is installing a third cascade into a water tote.

Some residents have started to prepare for the worst case by getting water totes.  This is more of a commitment given their size, weight and additional cost; but the benefit is additional water security.

Have questions about rain barrels and water security in the Village? CAC meetings are held monthly, with agendas posted prior to the meetings, and attendable on Zoom. The next CAC meeting will be held in Council Chambers April 22 at 6 p.m.

Have thoughts to share? Leave your comments below, or email us at 

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1 Comment

Thank you for this excellent article and all the important options available for residents. Another summer of probable drought will be upon us again for yet another year. In our yard we have two large white totes and two blue water barrels plumbed to our downspouts. We bought them when then councillor Bain and Brian from the Infrastructure Committee made them available for residents wanting to make an effort to save water. When our blue barrels are full, they are plumbed to then fill yet more vessels. This has become necessary here in Lions Bay, as our snow packs are no longer what they need to be in order to provide what is needed by the residents over t…

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